On Monday, Aug. 26, most of the nation gave a cursory observation to Women’s Equality Day — set aside to allow for reflecting on the bold and empowering steps women in America took to gain the right to vote and the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920. The nonviolent fight lasted more than 70 years and continues today. Women are still fighting for equal pay and speaking out against sexism and misogyny that permeates from the highest levels of government from the White House to the state house, the office and the classroom, on the athletic field, in the military and on every street corner. The discriminatory treatment of women is a lifelong experience that transcends from mother to daughter and from one generation to the next.
History reflects how women suffragists were intentional in keeping the movement to themselves, wanting to exclude Black women and their issues of enslavement and disenfranchisement apart from their agenda. The Negro woman (usually referred to back then by the other N-word) was considered a liability to the movement. That’s why the late C. Delores Tucker, the founder of the National Congress of Black Political Woman, led the charge to erect a monument in honor of Sojourner Truth, formerly enslaved, who became a well-known anti-slavery speaker, in Statutory Hall in the U.S. Capitol. Tucker wanted a constant reminder to all Americans of the question Truth raised in a speech before the Women’s Convention of mostly white women in 1851. Turner asked the audience, “Ain’t I A Woman?”
Today, Black women are proud of their achievements and should be. They are the backbone of the nation’s electorate, and now they’re becoming the elected in places where their success is least expected. Along with their political power will come greater economic opportunities and more seats at the table where national and global decisions are made. It’s true that Black women are paid less compared to white women, Asian women, and Latinas. Further, Black women receive less support from managers and are promoted more slowly, according to a recent Women in the Workplace study by LeanIn.Org & McKinsey & Company.
But nothing will keep a strong Black woman down. Even while the deafening silence from Black civil rights organizations on Monday was disheartening, it fueled the fire within Black women to continue to fight for their rights, even when no one else will support them.
Yes, you are a woman, deserving of equitable and fair treatment. It’s worth marching for, advocating for, and voting for.