August is National Women’s Suffrage Month, join Girl Scouts of Colorado as we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment and women’s constitutional right to vote! Suffrage is the right to vote in political elections and suffragists are people who advocate for the extension of the right to vote, especially to women. As we celebrate you will see this moment in history referred to as the “Women’s Suffrage Centennial”, “Suffrage Centennial”, or the 100thanniversary of the 19th Amendment.
This special blog post briefly explores the history of the women’s suffrage movement and lists opportunities and resources for Girl Scouts to learn more.
Special thanks our partners at the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame, League of Women Voters of Colorado, National Park Service, and Girl Scouts of the USA for bringing together unique opportunities for Girl Scouts to recognize this moment in history.
About the Women’s Suffrage Centennial
The 19th Amendment states, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”
According to the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission, “Suffragists began their organized fight for women’s equality in 1848 when they demanded the right to vote during the first women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York. For the next 72 years, women leaders lobbied, marched, picketed, and protested for the right to the ballot. The U.S. House of Representatives finally approved the Susan B. Anthony Amendment, which guaranteed women the right to vote, on May 21, 1919. The U.S. Senate followed two weeks later, and the 19th Amendment went to the states, where it had to be ratified by 3/4ths of the-then-48 states to be added to the Constitution. By a vote of 50-47, Tennessee became the last state needed to ratify the 19th Amendment on August 18, 1920. Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby issued a proclamation declaring the 19th Amendment ratified and part of the US Constitution on August 26, 1920, forever protecting American women’s right to vote. Today, more than 68 million women vote in elections because of the courageous suffragists who never gave up the fight for equality.”
As we recognize this important moment in U.S. history it is important to note that the language of the 19th Amendment included all eligible votes but not all eligible voters, especially women of color, could exercise their right to vote.
The 2020 Women’s Vote Centennial Initiative reminds us, “First of all, the Constitution in 1920 mandated a minimum voting age of 21, so the 19th Amendment allowed for women 21 and over to vote. Then, although the 19th Amendment included women of color, many were unable to vote. In the southern United States, restrictive state or local laws called for poll taxes and/or literacy tests before a citizen could vote. Eighty percent of African Americans lived in the southern U.S. in 1920. As more black women moved north, they were able to vote more freely. Full exercise of black voting rights was intended with the Voting Rights Act of 1965; however, even today some states continue to erect barriers to black voting. Native American women were largely excluded from voting before the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924; some states and localities still passed laws effectively barring Natives from voting until the late 1940s. Not until the late 1940s and 1950s were restrictions on Asian American voting removed.”
GSCO Virtual Programs
Suffrage Centennial with the Women’s Rights National Historic Park
Wednesday, August 5, 3 – 4 p.m., all ages
A National Park Ranger will talk to girls live from the Wesleyan Chapel. The Wesleyan Chapel is the location of the First Women’s Rights Convention held on July 19 and 20, 1848, in which approximately 300 people gathered to attend. It is considered by many historians to the formal beginning of the Women’s Rights Movement in the United States.
Girls will learn about the history of women’s right to vote and have an opportunity for a live Q&A session with the National Park Ranger.
Suffrage Centennial Celebration with the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame and the League of Women Voters of Colorado
C/S/A: Monday, August 10, 4 – 5:30 p.m.
D/B/J: Friday, August 14, 1:30 – 2:30 p.m.
Girls will learn about the suffrage movement and the women who shaped history. They’ll explore how these actions set the stage for women’s rights throughout history, how the Women’s Rights Movement is still a part of our current lives, and how, through advocacy, we have the power to impact the lives of others. Representatives of the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame will teach girls about the history of the movement and about Colorado suffragists, and representatives from the League of Women Voters will talk to girls about how they can take action today to make the world a better place.
Girl Scout patches and activities
- Girl Scout Suffrage Centennial Patch: The Girl Scout Suffrage Centennial patch gives you and your troop a chance to explore this important history through simple guides and fun activities.
- Girl Scout Ranger 19th Amendment Patch Program: The National Park Service and Girl Scouts of the USA are commemorating the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment with a limited-edition commemorative patch, activity guide, activity log, certificate, and special awards. The Girl Scout Ranger 19th Amendment Patch Program will enhance Girl Scouts’ understanding of the significance of the 19th Amendment which removed the gender restriction to voting and granted many women the right to vote. Celebrate the advances that resulted from the suffrage movement and key historical figures who were involved.
- The Complete Suffrage Toolkit: The materials and activities in this toolkit will inspire girls to discover the history of women’s voting rights and civic engagement. Through these activities, girls will connect, have multigenerational conversations within their communities, better understand the gender barriers that have been broken, and celebrate the women who broke them.
- The Suffrage Art Projects: Check out these fun art projects that take inspiration from what early suffragists did to call attention to their cause. Get creative and put your own twist on these entertaining activities.
Colorado Specific Activities and Resources – “As the first state to enact equal suffrage through popular vote – on November 7, 1893 – Colorado has a lot to commemorate . . .”
At Home Activities
Still to Come in August!
- National Civic Action: Promote the Vote
- Women’s Voting Rights around the World from the GSCO Global Action Team
19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Women’s Right to Vote (1920) – https://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?doc=63
2020 Women’s Vote Centennial Initiative – https://www.2020centennial.org/
“Between Two Worlds: Black Women and the Fight for Voting Rights” – https://www.nps.gov/articles/black-women-and-the-fight-for-voting-rights.htm
Library of Congress – https://www.loc.gov/exhibitions/women-fight-for-the-vote/about-this-exhibition/
National Archives – https://www.archives.gov/women/suffrage
National Park Service – https://www.nps.gov/subjects/womenshistory/19th-amendment.htm
National Parks Service, Article Series “Suffrage in America: The 15th and 19th Amendments” – https://www.nps.gov/articles/series.htm?id=EA334AEE-A3B5-5979-737829A71446739C
National Women’s History Museum, The Woman Suffrage Movement – https://www.womenshistory.org/resources/general/woman-suffrage-movement
PBS – https://www.pbs.org/kenburns/not-for-ourselves-alone/womens-suffrage/
Smithsonian Institution – https://americanhistory.si.edu/democracy-exhibition/vote-voice
Voting Rights Act (1965) – https://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=false&doc=100#
Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission – https://www.womensvote100.org/
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