Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
August 19, 2020
The City of Fernandina Beach has proclaimed August 26, 2020 as “Women’s Equality Day,” to honor the trailblazing American women who fought for, and achieved, incredible gains in equality since the ratification of the 19th Amendment 100 years ago. This Constitutional Amendment secured for women the right to vote. In presenting the Proclamation at the August 18, 2020 Fernandina Beach City Commission meeting, Mayor John Miller said, “Their hard-fought accomplishments have strengthened our economy, our communities, our families, and have enriched the American spirit. Their resolve, innovation, leadership, passion, and compassion have changed the world and continue to inspire future generations of women.”
Nassau Inclusive Coalition for Equality (NICE) members Genece Minshew and Zen Waters accepted the Proclamation.
Genece Minshew, who along with Dr. Theresa Sparks co-chairs the Nassau Inclusive Coalition for Equality thanked the city for recognizing the work and achievements of women toward gaining equal status in the United States. She delivered the remarks below:
“This very important day in American history, the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, ‘gave’ Women the Right to Vote. Today is the actual day, August 18th, 1920, the Tennessee legislature was the last state needed to ratify the 19th amendment.
“The suffrage movement did not emerge out of nowhere in 1848; it had roots in the movement to abolish slavery. Many early suffragists were active in that fight. Women staged one of the longest social reform movements in the history of the United States. This is not a boring history of nagging spinsters; it is a history of revolution staged by political geniuses-old women, young women, rich women, poor women, black women, white women, all sorts of women. Women fought for this right, women took to the streets, harassed President Wilson into submission. Women were, jailed, tortured, beaten and killed for this right.
“And the 19th Amendment was not an end but a beginning: After its ratification, it would take four more years for many Native Americans even to be considered citizens with voting rights in this country, and for some Asian-Americans it would take even longer. Many Black women, while possessing suffrage on paper, could not freely exercise that right until 1965, when the Voting Rights Act barred racially discriminatory voting practices, such as literacy tests and counting jelly beans in a jar. Disenfranchisement at the polls continues today.
“So, when you cast your vote on November 3rd and on every other election day, think of your mothers and grandmothers and the importance of voting. Thank you.”