Unfinished Business: Let’s Get Busy!Commentary
By Melanie L. Campbell – The passage of the 19th amendment in 1920 was a seminal moment in the women’s rights movement. A diverse coalition of women, including Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sojourner Truth, Ida B. Wells, and others, won the right to vote for women. But, when African American women showed up to the polls, most were denied their right to vote until the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Just ask Fannie Lou Hammer who was nearly beaten to death in 1963, for registering black voters. So, as we prepare to celebrate and commemorate the 30th Anniversary of Women’s Equality Day and the 48th Anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington, we know we have unfinished business.
Today, we see the rolling back of access to democracy and workers’ right to organize, especially aimed at disenfranchising women, minorities, youth and working class people. One by one, states are passing or attempting to enact draconian Voter ID bills, revert back to laws preventing formerly incarcerated from voting, and denying public workers the right to organize. These attempts to roll back the clock on our voting rights and worker rights remind us we have unfinished business.
We owe the great women of the 1920 and 1963 Movements a great deal. They led the way to make sure that all women had the right to vote and all people have the right to good jobs, justice and freedom. The NCBCP Black Women’s Roundtable joins the HerVotes coalition in a clarion call to action for women to get organized now to maximize the power of the women’s vote for 2012. Women are the majority vote in this country. Now is the time to leverage of votes and voices to stop the attack on women’s health and economic opportunities by those who want to take the country backwards to a time of exclusion and division, rather than moving forward together to a new era of inclusion, hope and opportunity for all. Ladies, we have unfinished business. Let’s get busy!
Melanie L. Campbell is president & CEO of The National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and Convener, Black Women’s Roundtable
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