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Whistles and Bells

Ten more days and it will be August 26, 2020, the centennial of women's victory in their multigenerational, nonviolent fierce fight for the vote. Early in the morning of August 26, 1920, Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby announced that "the suffrage amendment is now the 19th amendment to the constitution." No longer could the federal government or the states deprive women citizens from voting because of their sex. In my book, The Vote: Women's Fierce Fight, I describe how this momentous act was not witnessed by any suffragists, or recorded with photographs and movies. There was no pomp or ceremony, no speeches, no presentation of the pen!


Left with a feeling of "indignant disappointment," national suffrage leaders called for a clamorous nationwide celebration on August 28, 1920 at noon: "Every owner or custodian of a bell, whistle, horn, dishpan, dinner gong, bass drum or other noise-making instrument" was called upon "to go the limit on noise" in celebration of equal suffrage. In Bridgeport, CT, "a tremendous din of factory

whistles rent the air intermingled with the ringing of the church bells." There was a horn-honking automobile parade in Birmingham, Alabama.

Wouldn't it be great to re-create that clamorous celebration on its centennial—

August 28, 2020 at noon? A pause in the pandemic to remember and thank the indomitable women and their male allies of all races, ethnicities, sexualities, beliefs, classes, occupations, abilities who won the fight to enfranchise the largest number of citizens in American history. And, to resolve that we, too, will continue the fight to secure and protect the right to vote.

("Colby Proclaims Suffrage Without Pomp or Ceremony," The Hartford Courant, Aug. 27, 1920, p. 1.; "Whistles Will Blow and Bells Ring for Suffrage Today Noon," Albuquerque Morning Journal, Aug. 28, 1920, p. 4.)



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