A century of women’s suffrage to be celebrated with a day of events


Catt Hall after snowfall on Central Campus on Dec. 28, 2015.

Anneke Johnson

Editor’s Note: Previously this article had stated the Nineteenth Amendment gave white women the right to vote, rather than giving all women the right to vote. The Iowa State Daily has updated this article to correct this error. The Daily regrets this error. 

2020 is a year of celebration for women across the United States for one reason: it is a celebration of suffrage.

August 26 will mark 100 years since the 19th Amendment, condemning discrimination of voters on the basis of sex, was ratified.

At 11:30 a.m. Friday, the campaign “Hard Won Not Done” will be holding the 19th Amendment Centennial Commemoration Statewide Kickoff, a kickoff event for a year of commemorating this anniversary.

“Hard Won Not Done” is an Iowa-based campaign created to commemorate the ratification of the 19th Amendment, while advocating for continued fighting towards equality.

“The case for equal voice for women, indeed for all citizens, was won in 1920 at enormous cost and sacrifice by women and men from Iowa and the nation,” the campaign website states. “Yet even a casual glance at today’s headlines — voter disenfranchisement and suppression, equal representation in politics and business — reveals how much more remains to be done.”

Prior to the ratification of the 19th Amendment being certified on the 26 of August 1920, many small steps led to suffrage being adopted as the law of the land. Over the years arrests, beatings, imprisonment and derision followed the suffragists.

“Opposition was intense, yet it’s not as if they demanded equal rights as well. Had they done so, they might still be waiting to vote,” the campaign website states. “After all, as of today, 37 states have ratified the 1972 Equal Rights Amendment — and it’s still not law.”

The suffragist movement resulted in passage of the 19th Amendment in the U.S. Congress in June 1919, with ratification completed in August 1920. A minimum of 36 states were required for ratification. Wisconsin was the first to ratify, in June 1919. Iowa was 10th, less than one month later. Tennessee tipped the balance in a famously contentious vote on Aug. 18, 1920. The last state to ratify was Mississippi in 1984. Alaska and Hawaii were not states at the time of ratification; therefore, they are ineligible, though each has passed its own voting rights laws over time.

While the 19th Amendment granted women a vote, women of color continued to be systematically prevented from voting through methods such as poll taxes and literacy tests. The kickoff will be based around the theme of women of color who contributed to the suffrage movement.

The kickoff begins at 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Friday by showing the Iowa PBS premiere of “Carrie Chapman Catt: Warrior for Women” documentary in the Great Hall of the Memorial Union.

At noon there will be a Campanile Concert of Suffrage-Era Songs on Central Campus. From 1 to 2:15 p.m. the keynote will be Elaine Weiss, award-winning journalist and author of “The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote.” Weiss is also the 2020 Mary Louise Smith Chair in Women and Politics.

An event titled “The Yellow Rose of Suffrage” will be from 2:30 to 3:15 p.m. with Jane Cox, professor emerita of music and theatre.

During the day there will be two rounds of breakout sessions, the first being from 3:30 to 4:15 p.m. and the second from 4:30 to 5:15 p.m. All sessions will be in the Great Hall, Sun Room, Cardinal Room, Gold Room and Pioneer Room of the Memorial Union.

There will be three breaks scheduled at 2:15 to 2:30 p.m., 3:15 to 3:30 p.m. and 4:15 to 4:30 p.m. A closing reception will take place 5:15 to 6:30 p.m. in the Great Hall of the Memorial Union.