100 Years

Jessie: Feeling grateful and thinking about the women who came before me.

Tomorrow marks a momentous event. 100 years ago tomorrow Tennessee ratified the 19th amendment which enfranchised approximately 26 million American women. The amendment was certified on August 26, 1920 making it possible for many women to vote in the 1920 US presidential election.

As triumphant as the amendment was, it must be said that African-American women, Native American women, Chinese-American women and Latina women faced incredible barriers to exercising the right to vote. Threats and outright violence routinely obstructed African-American women throughout the United States but particularly below the Mason-Dixon line. Language barriers, poll taxes and literacy tests blocked Latina women, particular in Puerto Rico, from voting. In fact they did not receive the right to do so until 1929. Even more shockingly Native Americans were not granted citizenship United States until 1924 by an act of Congress. Even then, some states continue to bar Native American people from voting until 1957. Historically, discriminatory and complicated immigration policies created a variety of barriers to Chinese-American women.

In the UK, The Representation of the People Act 1918 enfranchised all women over the age of 30 who met certain property requirements. However, it wasn’t until 1928 all people over the age of 21 were permitted to vote regardless of property ownership. I think of these sorts of privileges and restrictions often as I write the Beryl and Edwina novels. As I imagine my sleuths’ stories I try to remain mindful that both of them are women of privilege. Edwina is the proud owner of her family home, the Beeches and in her forties. And Beryl may only have become eligible to vote well into her adulthood but as a white woman, is freely allowed to do so.

Sometimes it’s very difficult put myself in the mindset of someone who was so recently allowed to vote simply because of her gender. Other days it feels all too easy. I write my books in a house that was built 45 years before I would have been allowed to vote. An oil lamp sits behind me as I do so that belonged to my grandmother who was ten years old in 1920. Her own mother died before the 19th Amendment was ratified. As I sit at my desk creating novels using modern technology, it often seems that 100 years is not nearly enough time to shift the story as to who is valued, who receives justice and who has a voice that is heard.

It is my heartfelt hope that each of the readers of the Wickeds blog will find a way to make her or his own voice heard over the next few months by casting votes in any way available to them, supporting whomever they choose. The next hundred years depends on all of us.

Readers, what do you hope life will include 100 years from now?

37 Thoughts

  1. I hope the next 100 years sees more progress in equality, with the same laws being applied the same way toward everyone.

  2. I won’t be here in 100 years so I don’t know that it matters what I hope for.

    I suppose that given the incredible level of stupidity out there right now, I guess I could hope for that we won’t still be walking around with masks or be effectively locked down still.

    1. I expect there will be a record of this time and it may be of interest to people 100 years in the future. I know I find researching the past one of the important parts of my job!

  3. I enjoy voting in person. Always have. I will vote in person on election day this year. If I’m safe in Publix, I’m safe in the library building where I can exercise that hard won right. I’ve taken grandchildren (and students, when I was teaching) to the polls where they are given a sample ballot ( with make-believe candidates on it) with instructions on how to proceed so that they’ll feel comfortable when it’s time for them to vote. I’ll proudly wear the “I voted” sticker all day. This year we have to tear it off the strip ourselves at the proper distance, of course. I hope and pray that this great country will continue to flourish and learn from its past mistakes well into the next century.

  4. Before 100 years, I hope that we will all realize that we are ALL in this together and that what happens to the “unimportant” people is actually more important than the prosperity of the so-called elite.

  5. My mother (born in 1922) worked the polls in the 1950s and 1960s. It was the highlight of her year, and in those days, the votes were hand-counted and no one left until the tally matched the number of voters who were recorded as entering the polling place and the votes were counted four times by different poll workers. It was a strenuous business and one my mother loved. She firmly believed that all people had the right to a voice in our system and that it was a right that needed to be exercised for all elections.

    I hope in the next 100 years we will be voting about issues, not personalities, and that all who are able will vote.

  6. It would be extremely exciting if that fact that people are people could be finally achieved. Although some may be rich and some poor, some of color and some not, some of one religion and others of another, some are men and some women, some living in the U.S. and others not, but in the end people are people. Discrimination could be a thing of the past IF people would allow it. Think of how much could be accomplished in the whole world if we could just get this one point to stick in people’s mind and act on it properly!

    As for now, we all need to remember the privileges we have that were fought for by so many and not take them for granted.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  7. My daughter and I will vote (probably in person) at the polling station down the street (or the library if they move it again). As a young woman, she is looking forward to the day when the choices are not between one old white man and another.

    Now to get my son registered! Since he’s going away to NY, he’ll have to vote by mail, but he hasn’t quite embraced the role of “voting citizen” yet.

  8. this is a great post. sometimes we take for granted the rights and conveniences that we have today. voting is very important, especially now. a hundred years from now? I guess I don’t know. I really hope and pray that a hundred years from now that the US is the power house it used to be and that God moves mightily in its people
    quilting dash lady at Comcast dot net

    1. Thanks, Lori! It is easy to take things for granted. I hope voting will be still a typical enough thing that people in the US are not finding it to be a thing of the past!

  9. What a wonderful post. Thank you so much for sharing. I always vote, no matter how small the election or primary. It is my privilege and my right, a precious one that as you point out is not evenly extended. People fought for my right and continue to fight for it. This year I’ll be away from home, so voting by mail for third time in a row. I love to vote in person and always took my kids.

  10. I hope that life 100 years from now will include a healthier Earth, functional governments, and the end to racism and all pandemics. Tall order but 100 years is a long time. Course, we probably don’t have 100 years to save the Earth…

  11. In 100 years I hope that we will be a “successful” human race. I take that from a quote I read recently by Fred (Mr.) Rogers: “There are three ways to ultimate success: The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind.” If only we could be kind to one another, so much would be successful.

  12. My hope is that long before 100 years we can ALL get along. Betsy and Kay both said it very well. We’ve come a long way, but boy, do we have a long way to go. Let’s just hope the Earth is still livable for that long.

  13. I really loved your piece on the 100th anniversary! I appreciate the right to vote and have voted since I was 18. I have immense gratitude for the women that came before us! By the way love your name!

Comments are closed.