Ballot Initiative Strategy Center releases statement recognizing the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment

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Washington, D.C.The Ballot Initiative Strategy Center’s (BISC) Executive Director, Chris Melody Fields Figueredo, issued the following statement today recognizing the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment and acknowledging its pertinence today:

On August 18th, 1920, Tennessee became the 36th state to adopt the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, guaranteeing women the right to vote. The 28-word amendment was the culmination of a century’s worth of activism, and in many ways, guides the spirit of progressivism today.

But having dedicated so much of my life to the progressive causes aimed at dismantling our country’s historical injustices, I would be remiss to applaud the 19th Amendment’s groundbreaking success without also addressing its inexcusable failures.

When the 19th Amendment was first ratified, it wasn’t all women who gained the right to vote—it was white women. It wasn’t until 1965, nearly a half-century later, Black women and other women of color were extended the franchise through the Voting Rights Act. But even then it wasn’t a guarantee. It took several more amendments to the Voting Rights Act in 1970 and 1975 to ensure Native, Asian Pacific Islander, and Latinx women would have the same protections. It has been a constant struggle to ensure that people who looked like me were guaranteed a voice at the ballot box and a voice in our democracy.

Today, people who look like me don’t just have a voice in our democracy, we lead it. While we are still building a world where equity and justice, women like Kamala Harris, the daughter of South Asian and Caribbean immigrants, have the chance to occupy one of our country’s highest offices. In the grassroots of our political system, women of color are leading groundbreaking ballot measures. Women like Katrina L. Rogers, who is fighting to ensure all women in Louisiana have access to reproductive health, are critical to building a world where women live with dignity and thrive.

Right here at BISC, women—overwhelmingly women of color—are reshaping our political system through direct democracy that empowers people from all walks of life. Right here at BISC, we honor the legacy of the 19th Amendment by pushing to build a multiracial democracy that is not just for some, but for all.