Paradoxical as it may seem in this political climate, we are gearing up to celebrate Women's Equality Day on Sunday, August 26. If you feel as though the status of your equality is more theoretical than practical reality, then perhaps this year, consider marking Women's Equality Day 2018 with a protest or a march.
Because marching and protesting brought Women's Equality Day into existence to begin with. The occasion marks the anniversary of the 19th amendment's certification, or, the day women gained the right to vote — the culmination of many decades' worth of activism, according to The History Channel. Although certain groups advanced the suffrage cause in the early 19th century, it didn't hit the national stage until the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848. Organized by Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, the convention produced a Declaration of Independence-style Declaration of Sentiments outlining the movement's central idea: "That all men and women are created equal."
The end of the Civil War, however, tested organizers' commitment to that idea. Some — Stanton and Susan B. Anthony — felt that Black men should not get to vote before women did, and opposed the 15th amendment (which granted Black men suffrage) on those grounds. Others took a more holistic view of the situation and supported the 15th Amendment, and so the suffrage movement split into two camps: The National Woman Suffrage Association, headed by Stanton and Anthony, and the American Woman Suffrage Association, headed by abolitionists Lucy Stone and Henry Blackwell.
The two eventually merged to form the National American Woman Suffrage Association in 1890, and the movement advanced to the picketing and protesting stage, women brandishing signs before the White House. In coordination with President Woodrow Wilson's inauguration, women's suffrage advocates staged a mass march on the capitol — sound familiar? — and eventually, succeeded in swaying him to their cause. The House of Representatives approved the Susan Anthony Amendment in May of 1919, the Senate passed it on June 4, and the states ratified it in August.
On August 26, the 19th amendment became an official part of the U.S. Constitution, and here we are: Able to vote but still widely viewed as unequal by certain powerful men.
Women's Equality Day came into being thanks to concerted efforts by the women's liberation movement, which coordinated a 50,000-woman march down Fifth Avenue in New York City — a mass demand for equal pay, universal abortion access, and 24/7 childcare — on August 26, 1970, the 50-year anniversary of women's suffrage. New York Rep. Bella Abzug subsequently drafted legislation to make August 26 a memorial day to women's suffrage, and in 1971, her bill passed.
All of which is a reminder that, faced with a trash situation, our forbearers have typically chosen action over resigned submission, and sometimes it actually worked. So this Women's Equality Day, maybe take up that spirit and do some outdoor yelling, for posterity. Here are four protests, marches, and actions to help you do just that.