The 19th Amendment to the Constitution, guaranteeing women the right to vote, is ratified by Tennessee, giving it the two-thirds majority of state ratification necessary to make it the law of the land. The amendment was the culmination of more than 70 years of struggle by woman suffragists. Its two sections read simply: “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” and “Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”
America’s woman suffrage movement was founded in the mid 19th century by women who had become politically active through their work in the abolitionist and temperance movements. In July 1848, 200 woman suffragists, organized by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, met in Seneca Falls, New York, to discuss women’s rights. After approving measures asserting the right of women to educational and employment opportunities, they passed a resolution that declared “it is the duty of the women of this country to secure to themselves their sacred right to the elective franchise.” For proclaiming a woman’s right to vote, the Seneca Falls Convention was subjected to public ridicule, and some backers of women’s rights withdrew their support. However, the resolution marked the beginning of the woman suffrage movement in America.
The first national women’s rights convention was held in 1850 and then repeated annually, providing an important focus for the growing woman suffrage movement. In the Reconstruction era, the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was adopted, granting African American men the right to vote, but Congress declined to expand enfranchisement into the sphere of gender. In 1869, the National Woman Suffrage Association was founded by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton to push for a woman suffrage amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Another organization, the American Woman Suffrage Association, led by Lucy Stone, was formed in the same year to work through the state legislatures. In 1890, these two groups were united as the National American Woman Suffrage Association. That year, Wyoming became the first state to grant women the right to vote.
By the beginning of the 20th century, the role of women in American society was changing drastically: Women were working more, receiving a better education, bearing fewer children, and three more states (Colorado, Utah, and Idaho) had yielded to the demand for female enfranchisement. In 1916, the National Woman’s Party (formed in 1913 at the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage) decided to adopt a more radical approach to woman suffrage. Instead of questionnaires and lobbying, its members picketed the White House, marched, and staged acts of civil disobedience.
In 1917, America entered World War I, and women aided the war effort in various capacities, which helped to break down most of the remaining opposition to woman suffrage. By 1918, women had acquired equal suffrage with men in 15 states, and both the Democratic and Republican parties openly endorsed female enfranchisement.
In January 1918, the woman suffrage amendment passed the House of Representatives with the necessary two-thirds majority vote. In June 1919, it was approved by the Senate sent to the states for ratification. Campaigns were waged by suffragists around the country to secure ratification, and on August 18, 1920, Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the amendment. On August 26, it was formally adopted into the Constitution by proclamation of Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby
Because I am standing up for Black lives, I am now under police surveillance.
Demand the FCC take up Color Of Change’s complaint and stop police use of Stingrays.
My name is April, and I am a Core Organizer with Black Lives Matter DC. And because I am standing up for Black lives, I am now under police surveillance.
Stand with me and demand the FCC stop police use of Stingray surveillance!
A few hours after sending emails about being under police surveillance, I was targeted by an officer at the 7-11 near my house. I made sure to avoid him while in the store but when I left he was waiting for me, standing right outside the door. As I turned to walk to my car he yelled sarcastically, “Have a good evening Ms. Goggans” and then began to hostilely bully, threaten and harass me.
Knowing law enforcement is watching you is not thrilling or full of action like many well-known movies. It is omnipresent. It dictates how you move in the world, it makes you second-guess your associates, friends, co-workers and people you walk by on the street. Nothing is the same after you are sure “they” are watching you. There have been times I haven’t answered the door, my phone or gone to certain events because of the emotional labor and mental alertness it would take to be out in the world, even if only briefly.
This is the power of the military-grade surveillance tool that police across the country are using and have used against me – the Stingray. These devices can monitor everything you do on your phone or be used to block your cell service. These Stingrays are being deployed daily by police to vacuum up the personal data of entire neighborhoods.
The first time I saw “the truck” was in early spring. I was representing BLM while participating in an action with a local organization a few blocks from my home. A group of wealthy developers had purchased tickets for the “gentrification bus” to ride through predominantly Black, working class neighborhoods to scope out property to buy and develop there. We blocked the bus until it had to literally back out of our neighborhood. It was an exhilarating win until it disappeared down the street.Before we could react, a dozen police units rushed into the area, jumped out of their cars and started escalating, threatening, and antagonizing us. Then we saw “the truck.” We didn’t know what it was but knew we hadn’t seen it at any protest before.
We had been livestreaming the entire event on Facebook, documenting the police as they started pushing people, even throwing a mother and son on top of cars. But as soon as “the truck” showed up my phone kept losing the cell signal and our livestream cut out. I felt the hair on my arms stand up, I knew that “the truck” had something to do with it – it was carrying a Stingray. I immediately thought about all of the personal information they could access from my phone. And not just mine – but my daughters, my parents, and friends that I love dearly. I was sick with worry. Would they use that information to hurt them? I had no answer and no way to find out. I felt violated, unprotected, alone, like the perfect target.
This was the first time we caught police using Stingrays to intimidate us, to shut down our ability to share what was happening with the world, and it wasn’t the last.
In late July, BLM DC joined other groups to occupy the Legislative Office of the National Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) in DC. After about an hour of the occupation, “the truck” pulled up. It was parked there for the rest of the day. Before it showed up, I had been able to easily text, tweet and livestream the event. But once “the truck” parked, it was next to impossible for me to use my phone to send anything all day.
Now, every time I see “the truck” pull up to our events I have the same visceral reaction. It’s like opening a wound. Just like the first time, I felt violated, unprotected, alone. I had to remind my comrades to watch out for me as I moved throughout the day and I tried not to go anywhere alone.After the action with the gentrification bus, everyone now recognizes “the truck,” and each time, for a moment, you can see them trying to process the same fears I do.
Stingray devices and police surveillance are tools of fear, tools of intimidation. Just because we are standing up for Black lives does not give the police right to warrantlessly shut down or monitor or cell phone communications. Last week, Color Of Change filed a complaint with the FCC on police use of Stingrays, and if the FCC follows through it could end Stingray use across the country. But the FCC will only take up the complaint and take strong action against Stingrays if they hear from all of us. Don’t let police continue to spy on us and cut off our communications, demand the FCC act!
Until Justice is Real,
–April – Black Lives Matter DC
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