Sunday, Aug. 26, is when we commemorate
National Women's Equality Day, the anniversary of the day in 1920 when the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote, was ratified in the U.S. Constitution. It's a big deal — particularly right now, with the November midterm elections starting to loom into view. So it's something deserving of commemoration, whether you make a Facebook status, Snapchat it to everybody you know, go mad on Twitter, or brush up on your knowledge of women's rights quotes for your Instagram captions. The words of the people who fought for women's equality are powerful and deserve to be heard this Sunday (and every day, TBH).
However, it's also worth remembering that the British suffragettes had as their motto
the creed "Deeds, not words" — aka, put your money where your mouth is. Put these powerful sentences in places where they'll inspire you and others, and use them to fuel your action — by registering to vote, making sure everybody you know has too, signing petitions, calling your representatives, joining protests, making signs, or however else you choose to exercise your civic power. These words aren't the end of the commemoration; they're the beginning. Now get out there and use your voice.
The Simple Edict Of Susan B. Anthony
Men, their rights, and nothing more; women, their rights, and nothing less.
Susan B. Anthony was one of the main engineers behind the suffrage movement and women's rights in the United States in general, but her efforts can be summed up in
this one powerful sentence, the motto of her newspaper with Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
This 1971-Inspired Declaration
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that [Your name] recognizes the commemoration of that day in 1920, on which the women of America won their right to vote, as an opportunity to continue to work for equal rights for ALL citizens.
This one is suggested by the
National Women's History Project as an individual declaration to recognize National Women's Equality Day, using the language of the 1971 Resolution that made it an official day in the American calendar.
The 19th Amendment Itself
“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.”
The text of the 19th Amendment itself, which was ratified in 1920, shouldn't be forgotten. It looks simple on the face of it, but made a huge wave through American consciousness and the rights of women.
Sojourner Truth's Creed Of Equality
I feel that if I have to answer for the deeds done in my body just as much as a man, I have the right to have just as much as a man. Sojourner Truth's famous speech in 1867 demanded equal rights for Black women, including the vote.
Ida B. Wells' Demand For Truth
The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them.
Ida B. Wells was one of the most important journalists and agitators for human rights in U.S. history, and her
belief in the power of truth and history rings very true today.
Emmeline Pankhurst's Incitement To Rebellion
I know that women, once convinced that they are doing what is right, that their rebellion is just, will go on, no matter what the difficulties, no matter what the dangers, so long as there is a woman alive to hold up the flag of rebellion. Emmeline Pankhurst was one of the architects behind British suffrage, and advocated militant rebellion to achieve the vote.
Audre Lorde's Declaration Of Purpose
Fannie Lou Hamer's Testimony
I question America. Is this America, the land of the free and the home of the brave, where we have to sleep with our telephones off the hooks because our lives be threatened daily, because we want to live as decent human beings, in America? Fannie Lou Hamer's testimony in 1964 about the fight to vote in the South as Black activists is one of the most vivid documents of the civil rights movement.
Victoria Woodhull's Rebellion
I come before you to declare that my sex are entitled to the inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Woodhull was the
first woman to attempt to run for President in 1872, and though she was unsuccessful in making any political headway, she remains an important figure in the pursuit of women's political power in America.
Roxane Gay's Ambition And Choice
Women might be more ambitious and focused because we’ve never had a choice. We’ve had to fight to vote, to work outside the home, to work in environments free of sexual harassment, to attend the universities of our choice, and we’ve also had to prove ourselves over and over to receive any modicum of consideration.
Gay, who authored
is one of the most influential modern thinkers about feminism, choice, and the body, and her reflections on the continuing power of the vote ring true. Bad Feminist,
Sarah Moore Grimké's Demand
I ask no favors for my sex. I surrender not our claim to equality. All I ask of our brethren is, that they will take their feet from off our necks, and permit us to stand upright. Abolitionist and suffrage activist Sarah Moore Grimke and her sister Angelina were powerful speakers for anti-slavery and the right for women to vote in the late 18th century.
Remember these iconic words from famous feminist thinkers on National Women's Equality Day and everyday. Hopefully, they'll spur your circle into action.