Weekly Democratic Address
August 7, 2020
Good afternoon, I’m Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence, Co-Chair of the Democratic Women’s Caucus and Representative of Michigan’s 14th Congressional District.
On August 26th, 2020, the United States will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which guarantees and protects the constitutional right for women to vote.
To commemorate this historic centennial, the House and the Senate passed resolutions designating August 2020 as the National Women’s Suffrage Month. One-hundred and seventy-two years ago, 300 women and men gathered at Seneca Falls Convention to make the declaration “that all men and women are created equal.” That meeting initiated a generational struggle to secure the sacred right to vote. The roots of this movement stem from the fight to abolish slavery, where many of the early suffragists were active in that revolution.
Seventy years later, women were still denied the right to vote. But women of that time did not wait for change; they demanded it. For generations, they marched, picketed, protested and mobilized in the face of overwhelming challenges and adversity, to be heard as a full and equal citizen in our democracy. Decades of hard work, passion and dedication resulted in the ratification of the 19th Amendment.
Women of color, particularly black women, faced discriminatory practices, such as literacy tests and poll tax, preventing them from exercising their right to vote until the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was enacted, and we commemorate the 55th anniversary of that act being passed this week.
Similarly, Asian Americans, Native Americans and Hispanic Americans and many others were impacted by threats related to voting. As a Black woman, I am proud to say that the women of yesterday led the struggle for the voiceless in order to have a more perfect union. These women made a change.
But we know this fight for equality is not over. For women of color, the fight continues. Our civic duty is to vote, and our power as an American is in our vote. An attack on our right to vote is an attack on our democracy, which is why we passed H.R.4, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act of 2020. This bill passed the House months ago, but unfortunately, Senator McConnell still refuses to hold a vote on this issue.
Together, we must carry on the suffragists’ fight for access to the ballot box and combat the ongoing voter suppression efforts that undermine our democracy and disproportionally impact communities of color.
Today, more than 68 million women vote in elections because of the courageous suffragists who never gave up the fight for equality. And as we celebrate this 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, let us continue to protect – fight to protect and exercise the sacred right to vote.
Thank you, and be safe.