We must not rest. This statement by Mary White Ovington is the epigraph for the Epilogue in The Vote: Women’s Fierce Fight
About ten million women voted in the November 1920 presidential election. They came on foot, carriage, wagon, horseback, and in cars, including the popular Ford Model T. Pioneer suffragist Olympia Brown voted at the age of ninety-one. Sarah Penrose, who was “strongly opposed to suffrage,” felt it was her “duty nevertheless to vote.”
Across the country, however, there were women who were not able to vote. Women (and men) who were denied citizenship, such as Native Americas and immigrants of Asian descent, were prohibited from voting. A Richmond, Kentucky, newspaper reported that in Savannah, Georgia: “Negro women were refused ballots at voting places.” Efforts to curtail many citizens’ right to vote in America continue to this day, including impeding
registration, passing stringent voter ID laws, purging voters from the rolls, and limiting voting house. In words that resonate today, Mary White Ovington, a stalwart suffragist, journalist, and a co-founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, wrote that in the fight to protect the right to vote— We must not rest.
In the epilogue I dealt with two enduring questions: Why did it take so long? and How was the fierce fight of the vote won? I also write about the post-fight lives of a variety of suffragists, some sad.
The centennial celebration in 2020 of the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment has spurred efforts to
honor suffragists with a record number of landmarks, including the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial located near the site of the Occoquan Workhouse, and a statue in New York City’s Central Park representing Sojourner Truth,
Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Susan B. Anthony. A guide to landmarks aligned with the chapters in The Vote: Women’s Fierce Fight will soon available.
Image, top left: Bronze marker for Mary White Ovington and W.E.B. Dubois, another founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Points of Light Volunteer Pathway, Washington, D.C. Image, bottom right: Sketch of the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial, Occoquan Workhouse, southern Fairfax County, Virginia, architect Robert E. Beach, dedication in 2020. Image, bottom left, a rendering of the monument with representations of Sojourner Truth, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Susan B. Anthony (Click on image to enlarge.)
The Vote: Women’s Fierce Fight is available in paperback and eBook.