When I was born, my mother faced barriers to the vote based solely on the color of her skin. Women were severely underpaid, and women's voices were ignored in making decisions for our county. Today I have the privilege of serving as Chair of one of our nation's two major political parties - a party that has nominated a woman as our candidate for the most powerful elected office on the planet. That profound shift in opportunity for women is due in large part to the American suffragists, who understood the power of the vote, and who organized to fight for it.
When the 19th Amendment was certified 96 years ago, finally enshrining women's voting rights in the Constitution, it was a great leap forward. Combined with the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which protected voting rights for people of color, the 19th Amendment empowered women to shape the laws of our nation. We've achieved more opportunities in the workplace, reduced the gender pay gap, and improved health care for women and families. Not only that, each year more and more women are running for and winning elected seats from state houses to the Congress, and we're poised to elect a woman president for the first time in history.
I have dedicated my life to ensuring that the right to vote is protected for all Americans, regardless of race, class, creed or gender. Let's also rededicate ourselves to the cause of the suffragists. Voting must always be a right for all, and never a privilege for those already in power.
Donna Brazile is the Interim Chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). This essay was first published in the DNC e-newsletter.