100 Years After Senate Passed the 19th Amendment, Duckworth Calls on Congress to Honor Suffragists’ Legacy by Better Ensuring Voting Rights for All
[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – One hundred years to the day since Congress passed the 19th Amendment, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) spoke on the Senate floor to honor the suffragists who fought so tirelessly for women’s right to vote. Duckworth argued that the suffragists’ fight is not over—and that it now falls on today’s generation to keep their movement alive by working to expand voting rights to the many Americans who still don’t have full access to the ballot box. Video of the speech is available here.
“These women raised their voices on the picket lines so we could make ours heard at the polls,” Duckworth said. “They risked safety and security, withstood hypocrisy and overcame misogyny, refusing to stay silent so that their daughters and their daughters’ daughters would inherit the democracy they deserve… But every American’s right to vote wasn’t truly secured that day in 1919… and it still isn’t secure all these years later—not when voter suppression tactics still block so many people of color from the ballot. So what began at Seneca Falls continues with us today… Now, it falls on our generation to keep fighting for that more perfect union.”
Duckworth’s remarks as prepared for delivery are below:
I come to the floor today to honor some of the founders of our nation who all too often don’t get their due.
Founders whose gender or skin tone may not be represented on Mount Rushmore, but whose brilliance… whose resilience… helped ensure that the democracy we have today is strong and true.
Because this democracy wasn’t just built by George Washington or Thomas Jefferson.
It wasn’t perfected in the 18th century, when the ink dried on the four original pages of the Constitution.
It was shaped by women like Abigail Adams, who I named my first daughter after.
It was strengthened by suffragists like Sojourner Truth:
Who worked tirelessly to better the country that had kept her in chains…
Who used her emancipation to call for freedom and a voice for all—women, black, white, you name it.
It was formed by Illinoisans like Ida B. Wells, who demanded that women of color have a place at the forefront of the suffrage movement.
It was forged by women like Mary Livermore…
Who channeled her frustration over women’s inequality into action…
Spearheading Chicago’s first-ever suffrage convention 150 years ago and marking Illinois as a leader in the fight for women’s rights.
Our democracy was sharpened by the group of Illinoisans who traveled to D.C. in 1913, joining thousands of other women in their march down Pennsylvania Avenue…
Protesters who were vilified. Berated. Jostled and tripped and even jailed.
But who withstood it all to call for a constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote.
And this union was made more perfect when the 19th Amendment finally passed Congress—100 years ago today.
These women raised their voices on the picket lines so we could make ours heard at the polls.
They risked safety and security... withstood hypocrisy and overcame misogyny… refusing to stay silent so that their daughters and their daughters’ daughters would inherit the democracy they deserved.
For that, we are forever in their debt.
But of course, every American’s right to vote wasn’t truly secured that day in 1919.
Nor was it secured later that week, when Illinois became one of the first states to ratify the amendment...
Or in 1965, when Lyndon B. Johnson picked up a pen and signed the Voting Rights Act into law.
And it still isn’t secure today…
Not when voter suppression tactics still block so many people of color from the ballot…
When voter roll purges are still common and some in power are still fighting to install modern-day poll taxes.
So we can’t get complacent.
What began at Seneca Falls continues with us today, as it now falls to our generation to keep alive the work of yesterday’s suffragists….
To keep pushing for bills like the Voting Rights Advancement Act to ensure that bigoted state laws don’t disenfranchise any American.
It falls on us to keep fighting for that more perfect union…
To keep making our voices heard—whether that’s here on the Senate floor on anywhere else—so that finally… someday soon… every American can make theirs heard at the ballot box. Thank you.
Next Article Previous Article