Word to the Wise: Lessons from History.

November 5, 2019

Two important days bookend November.  Election Day on November 5th and Thanksgiving on November 28.

On November 5, 1919, Maine’s Legislature granted women the right to vote.  Maine was the 19th state to do so. Everywhere women had been fighting for this right for many decades–some were even imprisoned.

The Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution passed the next year. Nationally women gained the right to vote. However, winning suffrage wasn’t the end of women’s quest for equality. It was simply the end of the beginning, and much work remained.

For starters, not all women in the United States were enfranchised by the 19th Amendment. Jim Crow laws in the south prevented blacks from voting, and it wasn’t until Congress passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that these barriers would be removed nationally. The U.S. didn’t recognize Native Americans as citizens until 1924, and Maine didn’t grant them voting rights until 1954.

In 2018, voter turnout was higher among adults of all ages. However, among 18- to 29-year-olds, voter turnout went from 20 percent in 2014 to 36 percent in 2018, the largest percentage point increase for any age group — a 79 percent jump. 35.3 percent of women age 18 to 24 turned out, compared with 29.5 percent of men.What does this all mean? Well it tells us that we need to continue encouraging and getting young adults to vote! GRR! does this by on-the-ground education campaigns on college campuses. GRR! educators empower students to participate in the political process.

So here’s to supporting all efforts to clear the way to the voting booth for all!  We must do everything we can to get out the vote for pro-choice candidates, especially women, at all levels of our government.

Thanksgiving, on November 28th, is at the end of the month. We give thanks for the abundance of the day for family gatherings. However, we still hear the story of the friendly relations between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag (Wôpanâak) people. This story was completely fabricated. It’s a history of broken promises, fear and distrust, murder, and of treaties ignored by people of European descent. It is time to demand inclusion of the first Americans and those who have arrived more recently. Right now our government is spreading hate, racism, and promoting White Supremacy. It is vital that we create our nation’s story such  that everyone has access to their rights. This is our collective responsibility.

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