Today Is the Anniversary Of The Voting Rights Act—But For Too Many Women Of Color, Voting Rights Are Far From Secure

The Voting Rights Act passed on August 6, 1965. For African American women, this was meant to deliver on the promise of the 19th Amendment to the U.S.

Source: Today Is the Anniversary Of The Voting Rights Act—But For Too Many Women Of Color, Voting Rights Are Far From Secure | National Organization for Women


Can you imagine if Alice Paul or Ida B. Wells, women who fought for our right to vote, had to watch as a Donald Trump is sworn in as President of the United States (recognize the last male voice on the video? Listen to what he says – really scary)?

Created by Frank Chi and A Angélique Roché. Production of this video was provided in part by a grant from Art Matters Foundation.

We will not be silent as elected officials attempt to roll back our rights. We will fight against any attempt by state houses, Congress or this Administration to limit rights or freedoms in our country, particularly the rights of those most marginalized. Stand with us as we fight for justice.

Women voters: Their growing influence in politics and policy

In celebration of Women’s Equality Day

Women’s Equality Day, Aug. 26, commemorates women’s right to vote throughout the United States, and women in Oregon have even more to celebrate on this year’s 95th anniversary. Unlike other states that block voting, especially for women, our state’s new “motor voter” registers all people who get driver’s licenses and allows them to choose a political party or opt out if they don’t want to be registered.    
Lawmakers in many other states have passed new laws or strengthened old ones to restrict voting — especially female, low-income, and racial/ethnic minority voters. State legislators mandated photo IDs, reduced the number of voting days, limited voter registration and closed voting on weekends. Only Oregon expanded voting to all citizens through a combination of the “motor-voter” voter registration bill and Oregon’s vote-by-mail law, shared only by Washington and Colorado.    
Two years ago, the Supreme Court overturned part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which allowed greater discrimination through state restrictive voting laws that had begun to balloon in 2010. Lawmakers assumed that non-voting citizens are Democrat and progressive and knew their e• et: one state legislative leader bragged that a voter ID law would deliver his state for Mitt Romney in 2012. During the current year, at least 113 bills to restrict voting were introduced or carried over in 33 states. Of the 36 states passing laws requiring identification at the polls, 32 states still have these laws in e• ect, and North Carolina’s law is scheduled to go into e• ect in 2015. Almost two-thirds of the states have laws to prevent citizens from voting.
A federal circuit court has stated that 600,000 people in Texas couldn’t vote because of the stringent voter ID law. A large percentage of disenfranchised voters is female because the law required current identifi cation to have the exact same name on birth certifi cates. Women who changed their names when they were married did not meet this standard. About 90 percent of women change their names when they marry. Fixing the problem cost up to $42 and required up to 250 miles of travel. Poor women had to decide whether to get a voter ID or feed their children. Texas is also illegally refusing birth certificates to infants born in the United States of immigrant women, causing serious problems when these infants reach voting age.
A frequent argument is that voter IDs stop voter fraud. Yet a 2012 report shows that this fraud occurs in 0.000002 percent of votes cast. Far more fraud comes from voting o• cials and computers, unrelated to new laws.
On Women’s Equality Day, Oregonians should take pride in its groundbreaking law that promotes voting instead of restricting this constitutional right. After the Oregon law passed, 17 other states introduced similar bills to simplify voter registration. The New Jersey Legislature also passed automatic voter registration with other reforms such as online registration and early voting, but Gov. Chris Christie said he may veto the bill.
Within the last century, women have gained far more rights than voting — opening a bank account, borrowing money, having credit cards in their own names, divorcing, expanding career opportunities for both married and single women, buying contraceptives, joining the military, participating on juries, being leaders in some religions, etc. Not until a Supreme Court ruling in 1971, however, did women have equal rights with men in owning property and obtaining employment. That same year, Congress proclaimed Aug. 26 as Women’s Equality Day because, as the resolution stated, “the women of the United States have been treated as second-class citizens and have not been entitled the full rights and privileges, public or private, legal or institutional, which are available to male citizens of the United States.”
Women have still not achieved equality to men in areas such as jobs, pay, the workplace, sports, technology, job promotion, costs of items and services and protection from violence. Toward that end, the Central Oregon Coast chapter of the National Organization for Women honors the people of the past who have fought for women’s rights and continues to lobby for complete gender equality.
Nel Ward is a member of the Central Oregon Coast chapter of the National Organization for Women. She lives in Newport.
Newport News Times, Friday, August 21, 2015

Panel picks Chief Joseph, Abigail Scott Duniway to represent Oregon as statues at U.S. Capitol

on March 04, 2015 at 8:26 PM, updated March 04, 2015 at 9:03 PM

Abigail Scott Duniway votes in 1914 in Portland. Oregon Historical Society photo

Abigail Scott Duniway votes in 1914 in Portland. Oregon Historical Society photo

SALEM — Nez Perce leader Chief Joseph and pioneering woman rights activist Abigail Scott Duniway should replace two other symbols of Oregon among the statues on display at the U.S. Capitol, a panel recommended on Wednesday.

The Statuary Hall Study Commission decided it was time to update Oregon’s contributions to the National Statuary Hall Collection in Washington, D.C., where each state has two figures to serve as symbols. The final decision on which statues will be representing Oregon still rests with state lawmakers.

Since 1953, Oregon’s two figures have been pioneer Jason Lee, a 19th century missionary who founded what became Willamette University, and John McLoughlin, a fur trader known as the father of Oregon.

“Much more Oregon history has been written, and it was time to send statues of two equally worthy individuals who represent different chapters in Oregon’s history,” said Jerry Hudson, chair of the commission.

The commission decided to recommend that the McLoughlin and Lee statues come back to Oregon, and that they be replaced by Chief Joseph and Duniway.

Chief Joseph lived from 1840-1904 and was leader a band of the Nez Perce that was forcibly removed from the Wallowa Valley by the U.S. government. Joseph’s band was among those that resisted removal during the 1877 Nez Perce War.

Chief Joseph is “Oregon’s only truly mythical heroic figure,” said Amy Platt, a project manager at the Oregon Historical Society.

“I would say that most schoolchildren in the country know his name, which is extraordinary,” Platt said.

Duniway, who lived from 1834-1915, was known as “the pioneer woman suffragist of the great Northwest.” She and her family moved to Oregon in a wagon train, and she wrote about that experience in novels.

For 16 years, she was editor and publisher of “The New Northwest,” a newspaper devoted to women’s rights. She also wrote the Oregon Woman Suffrage Proclamation in 1912, said Eliza Canty-Jones, a public outreach manager at Oregon Historical Society.

There are 90 men and 10 women in the National Statuary Hall Collection. It wasn’t until 2000 that Congress decided states could switch out their statues. Seven states have already done so, including Ohio, which is in the process of replacing Governor William Allen, a 19th century congressman who supported the rights of southern slave owners, with the inventor Thomas Edison. California replaced Civil War abolitionist Thomas Starr King with a bronze statue of Ronald Reagan in 2006.

Oregon’s nine-member commission, created by former Gov. John Kitzhaber last August, was initially tasked with deciding whether Lee’s statue should be replaced with that of the late Mark Hatfield, World War II veteran and the longest-serving senator in Oregon’s history.

It instead recommended both Lee and McLoughlin should be returned to “places of honor” in Oregon.

Though the commission had already endorsed removal of the two statues, several people spoke in favor of keeping them in their current homes during a public hearing preceding the commission’s vote, including one man who testified as though he were McLoughlin himself.

The commission has been gathering input from scholars and the public about who best represents Oregon, and it narrowed a list of 10 candidates down to four in December. Along with Hatfield, Chief Joseph and Duniway, former governor Tom McCall was a contender.

It’s unclear where the McLoughlin and Lee statues will go if the Legislature decides to bring them home to Oregon. Local communities and museums can apply to house them, said Kerry Tymchuk, executive director of the Oregon Historical Society and a nonvoting member of the panel.

— Sheila V Kumar, The Associated Press

Oregon Legislature Passes Resolution Honoring Abigail Scott Duniway

February 27, 2015

Abigail Scott Duniway

Abigail Scott Duniway

Today the Oregon Legislature passed House Concurrent Resolution 7 honoring Oregon pioneer, author and activist Abigail Scott Duniway:


Whereas Abigail Scott Duniway was the embodiment of a true pioneer, traveling the Oregon

Trail and eventually becoming one of the leading voices in the nationwide struggle for woman

suffrage; and

Whereas Abigail Scott Duniway was born Abigail Jane Scott in Illinois on October 22, 1834; and

Whereas Abigail Scott traveled to Oregon Territory with her family in 1852, settling in

Lafayette; and

Whereas Abigail Scott married Benjamin Duniway in 1853 and together they had one daughter

and five sons; and

Whereas Abigail Scott Duniway wrote 22 novels over the course of her life, including Captain

Gray’s Company in 1859, the first book commercially published in Oregon; and

Whereas the Duniway family lost their farm properties due to fire and Benjamin Duniway’s financial

difficulties, circumstances soon followed by an accident that left Benjamin Duniway unable

to perform hard physical labor; and

Whereas following her husband’s injury, Abigail Scott Duniway became the primary breadwinner

for the family, opening a millinery shop, running a school and taking in boarders; and

Whereas the Duniway family moved to Portland in 1871, where Abigail Scott Duniway founded

a newspaper, The New Northwest, in 1871, and served as editor and writer for the newspaper until

it closed in 1887; and

Whereas Abigail Scott Duniway worked for women’s rights as a lecturer, organizer, writer and

editor, founded the Oregon State Woman Suffrage Association and the Oregon State Equal Suffrage

Association, served as one of the five National Woman Suffrage Association vice-presidents-at-large

and traveled throughout Oregon and the United States to advocate for woman suffrage; and

Whereas Abigail Scott Duniway advocated the use of persuasive words and nonconfrontational

tactics to further the causes she espoused; and

Whereas in addition to the cause of woman suffrage, Abigail Scott Duniway promoted discourse

regarding many other topics, including social injustices she observed; and

Whereas Abigail Scott Duniway died on October 11, 1915, after seeing women granted the vote

in Oregon but before the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified,

guaranteeing the right to vote for all women in the United States; and

Whereas Abigail Scott Duniway’s tireless work on behalf of woman suffrage has led many to

honor her as the “Mother of Equal Suffrage”; now, therefore,

Be It Resolved by the Legislative Assembly of the State of Oregon:

That we, the members of the Seventy-eighth Legislative Assembly, honor Abigail Scott Duniway

for her pioneering work for woman suffrage and for her place in Oregon’s history as one of its

earliest and most influential leaders.

Vote Now to Have Abigail Scott Duniway’s Statute Erected in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol!

Statuary Hall

Statuary Hall Study Commission.


Statuary Hall Study Commission Nears Final Recommendation
January 26, 2015 

The Commission now recommends replacing two statues and narrows field of candidates

Salem, OR—The Statuary Hall Study Commission has announced two major decisions and scheduled a public hearing where it is expected to complete its work. The nine-member public commission is charged with recommending to the Oregon State Legislature the fate of the statues representing Oregon in the National Statuary Hall in the United States Capitol.


In a recent letter to Governor Kitzhaber and legislative leadership, Commission Chair Jerry Hudson announced that the commission had unanimously agreed to recommend that the statues of pre-statehood leaders Dr. John McLoughlin (1784-1857) and Reverend Jason Lee (1803-1845) be returned to “places of honor” in Oregon and that “two equally worthy individuals who represent different chapters in Oregon’s history” be installed in the National Statuary Hall. The McLoughlin and Lee statues were approved by the 1921 Oregon State Legislative Assembly and eventually installed in the United States Capitol in 1953.


The Commission has also announced that the four individuals still under consideration to represent Oregon in National Statuary Hall are Native American leader Chief Joseph (Heinmot Tooyalakekt, 1840-1904), suffragist and women’s rights activist Abigail Scott Duniway (1834-1915), and public officials Tom McCall (1913-1983), and Mark Hatfield (1922-2011).


The Commission will hold a public hearing at 1 p.m. (note time change) on Wednesday, March 4 in the Alumni Lounge at Willamette University, where it will invite public testimony and hear a presentation from the Oregon Historical Society on the four finalists. Additionally, the Commission invites all Oregonians to share their opinions via the Oregon Historical Society website.


Vote Now!


The National Statuary Hall is the result of legislation passed by Congress in 1864 inviting each state to send two statues of citizens “illustrious for their historic renown or for distinguished civic or military service.” The National Statuary Hall collection now includes 100 statues contributed by the fifty states. Legislation enacted by Congress in 2000 provides procedures for states to reclaim and replace statues. Seven states have since done so. Governor Kitzhaber created the Statuary Hall Study Commission by Executive Order on August 20, 2014, and assigned them the task of reporting to the Oregon State Legislative Assembly whether the statues of John McLoughlin and Jason Lee should be returned to Oregon, and, if so, who should be sent as replacements. Five members of the Commission were appointed by Governor Kitzhaber; and two members each were appointed by the President of the Oregon State Senate and the Speaker of the Oregon House.

About the Statuary Hall Study Commission

National Statuary Hall was created by Congress in 1864, and over the past 150 years, each state has sent statues of two “worthy individuals” to be displayed in Washington, D.C. In 1921, the Oregon State Legislature recommended that Jason Lee and Dr. John McLoughlin represent our state, and in 1953 those statues were placed in Statuary Hall. As time passed, some state legislatures expressed interest in replacing historical figures who no longer best represented the history and values of their state. In 2000, Congress adopted legislation allowing states to replace their statues.


On August 20, 2014, Governor John Kitzhaber established the Statuary Hall Study Commission by Executive Order to determine whether Oregon’s statues of John McLoughlin and Jason Lee should remain or be replaced by other notable Oregonians. The Commission consists of nine voting members—five appointed by the Governor, two appointed by Senate President Peter Courtney, and two appointed by Speaker of the House Tina Kotek.


The Commission is charged with studying and recommending to the 2015 Oregon Legislative Assembly whether to replace one or both of Oregon’s statues. If a replacement is recommended, the Commission, with input from Oregonians, will recommend which individual(s) should be honored in the National Statuary Hall Collection.


To learn more about the individuals who have been recommended by the Commission for consideration, visit the Oregon Encyclopedia, or click on any of the links above.

What Black Women in West Philadelphia Had to Say About Women’s Equality Day

by Jasmine Burnett, National Black Network for Reproductive Justice

August 27, 2014 – 11:30 am

Rarely, if ever, are Black women interviewed in the neighborhoods where they live and asked about a policy’s impact on their lives. As such, I felt it was high time for me to ask Black women in my community about their lived experiences with, and connection to, the laws that secured their right to vote. (Black women via Shutterstock)

Rarely, if ever, are Black women interviewed in the neighborhoods where they live and asked about a policy’s impact on their lives. As such, I felt it was high time for me to ask Black women in my community about their lived experiences with, and connection to, the laws that secured their right to vote. (Black women via Shutterstock)

Rarely, if ever, are Black women interviewed in the neighborhoods where they live and asked about a policy’s impact on their lives. As such,on the days leading up to Women’s Equality Day, which is held each year on August 26, I felt it was high time for me to begin asking Black women in my community about their lived experiences with, and connection to, the laws that secured their right to vote.

When I think about Women’s Equality Day, I reflect on the power and significance of Black women exercising their right to vote. And I am reminded of the ways in which the fight for women’s equality was a “crooked room” for Black suffragettes. As they stood on the front lines of organizing for women’s voting rights, they were also fighting to end the lynching of Black men and women across the South. Today, Black feminist activists continue this intersectional work, of having to protect our bodies, lives, and families by voting against legislation that aims to take away our human rights at the same time that we’re fighting to end sexist and gender-motivated violence as well as racist, state-sanctioned violence in our communities.

Most people, including women, don’t know or care much about Women’s Equality Day, except those of us who live and breathe women’s rights work. The cause of this can be largely attributed to sexism, plain and simple. For Women’s Equality Day, there isn’t the same level of attention paid to it that is given to federally recognized holidays, and we don’t get a day off work to reflect on its significance in American history, or our position in society as women voters.

So, I took to the streets of my neighborhood in West Philadelphia, interviewing two friends and eight other Black women. In this area, 75 percent of the residents are African American. It comes as little surprise that politicians and law enforcement have a challenging history with the Black community here.

Being new to Philadelphia, and this community, I was relieved to find that the Black women I spoke with understood the complicated history with the Women’s Equality Day and that it took a combination of the 19th Amendment and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 for Black women to have full access to the vote. These facts illustrate the Black feminist adage about how all the women are white, all the Blacks are men, and Black women, indeed, are brave.

I found during my interviews that I was not alone in thinking that voting matters. As Briana, 25, shared, “It matters for me to have a voice, and now that we have it, we should make sure that we use it.”

“It’s important that Black women have the right to vote,” added Audrey, 55. “But, a lot of them don’t take the opportunity to vote. They come up with a lot of excuses like, ‘Why should I do this, it’s not going to matter anyway?’ I always tell people, it does matter.”

Some Black women, as Audrey explains, are traumatized to inaction at the fear of being made visible. “A lot of Black women I talk to between the ages of 19 and 30 don’t vote at all. They come up with excuses of why they shouldn’t. I often talk to young women and tell them every vote counts, and their voice matters.”

But, having the right to vote is one thing, having the opportunity to exercise that right is another matter entirely, as has been made clear with voter identification laws that disproportionately affect women in this country. “We live with this idea of a post-racial, post-sexist society,” said Charmaine, 26. “There’s still a lot of work left that we can do, especially in Pennsylvania, which is trying to change the voter laws. The monster we are up againstchanges every year. We need to re-evaluate and adjust our tactics.”

Currently, there is a coalition of organizational leaders pushing new pro-women legislation. Called the Pennsylvania Agenda for Women’s Health, the coalition has put forth a series of bills that will provide low-income women, women of color, and women veterans with access to a range of health-care options, economic protections, and safety accommodations at work and in their communities. While this is good news for women’s rights, at this point theleadership of this agenda is not reflective of the demographic population in Philadelphia, of which 44 percent are Black or African American. However, there is a women of color-led reproductive justice organization, based in Pittsburgh, leading in the policy discussions about the agenda.

The diversity of women’s health-care needs is addressed in the Pennsylvania Agenda for Women’s Health is promising because it provides protection for whether a woman’s rights will be respected, and whether or not her health insurance covers the range of her reproductive health needs. Charmaine provided some insight on health-care coverage and women’s reproductive health options when she said, “Even with Obamacare, you barely have [coverage of] birth control, based on who you work for, or an abortion if you can’t afford it because Medicaid doesn’t cover it [in most cases, as part of the Hyde Amendment]. I thought this was something that just happened in Texas, but now that I know that there isn’t [reliable] coverage [of reproductive health care services] in Pennsylvania, this just proves my point. People not only need health care, but they should get to choose what that health care is.”

When asked about the agenda she would set to improve the lives of communities of color in the state, Reagen, 32, responded: “If tomorrow I had the power to set priorities for all women in the state of Pennsylvania, rather than choose just one issue [such as education, health care, and equal pay] to start with, I would highlight the intersections between all of them. As Audre Lorde said, “We don’t live single-issue lives.” I think it’s rare for any one thing to be the deciding thing in a person’s life; it’s usually multiple things at once.”

However, Jillian, 30, believes that equal pay for equal work is an issue to lead this discussion: “First and foremost, equal pay for equal work is the most important to me. It’s almost like, why are we having the discussion about that, because it just seems like it’s common sense?”

The women I spoke with also made some interesting observations about their experiences in the workplace. Charmaine explained: “So, I’m a teacher. And the equal pay piece is the least important issue for me because I feel like our struggle at my job is larger than pay, though it is connected to that. For example, there are only six men that work in our school, and four of them are administrators.”

Glory, 29, added: “Having worked in [the field of] medicine for some time, I have seen that it’s just not equal in the workforce. I see the competition. And especially as a Black woman, I have found out that people who have the same exact experience, or even less experiencewere getting compensated a higher amount just because of who they were.”

On parenting and workplace discrimination, Samantha Jo, 32, had this to say: “One of my personal struggles right now is: Would I be supported being a trans woman of color while parenting? What would time off look like? What would bonding look like in order for me to stay home with my baby? These are concerns that are really present and of interest to me.”

It’s unrealistic to think that Black women could celebrate a day like Women’s Equality Day blindly and not reflect on the opportunities to build equality that meets all women where they are. Reagen, for example, provided some insight on how Black and undocumented womencan connect through their shared experiences: “As much as I think the police won’t show up when I need them, I still can call them without fear of being deported. As a Black woman, I think there’s an opportunity for a stronger movement and a stronger ask with brown women who are unafraid and probably need some of that support. I might be in a small minority here, but I actually don’t think it dilutes anyone’s agenda. In fact, it actually strengthens both undocumented immigrant women and Black women’s agendas if we were to come together.”

Jillian added that Women’s Equality Day “is an important dayfor people to take the time to reflect that women are a commodity in the workforce right now—especially given the fact that you have a lot of Black women who are the sole providers for their families—it’s very important that we give light to that fact.”

“The majority of Black women are holding it down and holding their families down, not just with income but also working in what are considered male-dominated fields because of the limited options for work in our communities.” She went on to explain, “We are taking the initiative to have our voices heard, and taking steps to better ourselves.”

The experience of being a Black woman and having the right and opportunity to vote is indeed something to celebrate. However, I think we can all agree with Samantha Jo when she said, “Women’s Equality is a celebration of liberation, but it can be bittersweet sometimes.”

This piece is published in collaboration with Echoing Ida, a Forward Together project.

Follow Jasmine Burnett on Twitter: @Blkfeminst



June 4 is the 95th Anniversary of Congress Passing the 19th Amendment

June 4 is the 95th Anniversary of Congress Passing the 19th Amendment

On June 4, 1919 Congress passed the 19th Amendment which gave women the right to vote. The Amendment was then sent to the states for ratification. It took a little over a year to be ratified on August 18, 1920.

“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 Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) has not faired so well. Originally written in 1923 by Alice Paul and first introduced in Congress in 1923, it did not pass both houses of Congress and go to the states for ratification until 1972. It is still three (3) states short of ratification.

We have a chance in 2014 to at least pass a state ERA in Oregon that would grant women express equal rights in the Oregon Constitution. Please do what you can to help!!