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What Melinda Gates, Billie Jean King, and Michelle Obama want you to know about Women’s Equality Day

What Melinda Gates, Billie Jean King, and Michelle Obama want you to know about Women’s Equality Day
Melinda Gates [Photo: Flickr user Chatham House]

Ninety-nine years ago today, the 19th Amendment became part of the U.S. Constitution, guaranteeing women the right to vote. It was a major milestone in the history of our democracy and a hard-fought victory for white women, but women of color were left behind over the ensuing decades. As the Hill writes, the 19th Amendment should not be romanticized.

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This year, as we mark Women’s Equality Day, some current headline makers (Melinda Gates, Kamala Harris, Michelle Obama, and others) are using the opportunity to remind the world of that shadow that still lingers over the amendment’s passing. They are shining a light on the achievements of African-American suffragists, like Sojourner Truth, Ida B. Wells, and Mary Church Terrell, women who fought for equality on two fronts. These women deserve to have their place in U.S. history alongside Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Alice Paul, who, according to the American National Biography entry, told Terrell that “the rights of black women were not important to the cause.” History has proven her very wrong.

Some are also calling to continue the mission laid out at the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848, according to Time. The convention called for not only a women’s right to vote, but for a wide range of rights—including education, economic rights, the right to a good job, and the right to own property. Women are still battling for equality on many of those fronts, highlighted by the ongoing wage gap, and the Equal Rights Amendment is still short of ratification.

This Women’s Equality Day, mark the occasion by not only singing the praises of previously unsung heroes, but also by fighting for equality for all women—and on all fronts:

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