Why Women’s Suffragists Were Total Badasses

Yesterday marked 92 years since the 19th amendment passed, granting women in the United States the right to vote. Yesterday I spent a good amount of time reading about the suffragist movement, and it’s just ballsy and amazing what these women pulled off.

One thing I learned: this wasn’t a short, simple or painless crusade. As with so many other people who have fought (and are currently fighting for) equal  rights, the road is often uphill. And dirty. And rocky. With all sorts of shenanigans and people trying to delay progress.

Read this timeline, which succinctly outlines the path to voting for women in the early 1900′s…this play-by-play is fascinating. Perhaps my favorite part of the crusade went down in the Spring of 1919. Here’s what happened (from the Scholastic website):

The most prominent National Woman’s Party suffrage prisoners (including Havemeyer, Rogers, Milholland, Winsor, Vernon) tour the country on a train called the “Prison Special.” At each stop they speak about the need for suffrage and their prison experiences; between stops they threw suffrage literature out the windows for farming communities.

That’s right, they went on a speaking tour. And called it the Prison Special. How Rikers Island is that? And I thought our upcoming tour theme was edgy. These suffragists were no joke, naming their cross-country tours after their time in the Big House. Totally badass.

This, my friends, is the power of the spoken word. It is the bravery of one woman standing up and speaking her truth.

We are living in a time where we have so many communication tools: e-mail, phone, skype, social media, the Internet (and I think the US Postal Service is still in business…for now). It’s easy to forget the impact of looking into someone’s eyes, and telling them what you believe.

This is where change begins. Over a coffee. A dinner discussion. A tense debate at the office water cooler. On stage. I believe all of us can change the world…and when you have a microphone, you can do it faster.

Think about it: The ideas that spawned the greatest shifts in our society all started with a sentence. Martin Luther King Jr. is a great example, his words moving people to tears and to action. So were these maverick suffragists – and I only wish there was video of the throw-down speeches they must have delivered (not to mention the hecklers they likely endured).

This is exactly why I feel so strongly about the Girls Fight Back speaking tour that will begin in September. Wanna get on the tour? Jump on it by contacting us here. It is also why I am launching the first-ever socially conscious speakers agency later this year called Evoso. (a blended of “evolve + society” since that’s exactly what speaking your truth accomplishes)

This week, remember the great work of women’s suffragists and all crusaders for equality – both past and present. Then ask yourself how your voice can change the world. We need to hear it.

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