In June 1919, Congress passed the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote.  A month later Georgia was the first state to reject the amendment. But by August 1920 enough states had ratified it to become law. Women across the country participated in the 1920 presidential election, but Georgia women couldn’t because registration barriers prevented them from voting. They had to wait until 1922 to exercise their right and women of color did not gain the right to vote until the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Our male dominated conservative legislature belatedly ratified the 19th Amendment in 1970.

Suffragettes endured arrests and imprisonment where they were brutalized and force-fed. Over the decades, women have honored these pioneering efforts by consistently turning out to vote. Their participation at the polls and in civic affairs has helped change attitudes and promote a more inclusive society, awakening public awareness to injustices and disparate treatment in the home and in the workplace.

Suffrage gave women a voice and greater ammunition with which to make a difference on every level. This has been made more urgent by the ongoing pandemic and the fact that the next election will be critical to our nation’s future. Americans will have the opportunity to elect leaders who will be charged with guiding our nation’s recovery and implementing effective policies to restart our stalled economy and prevent future outbreaks of this devastating virus. We must make good choices. In 1920 women won the right to vote…don’t waste it.

Peggy Perkins

Winder, Ga.

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