Two weeks ago, on Women’s Equality Day, NEW and many other organizations posted messages of celebration. Women's Equality Day commemorates the date that the 19th Amendment was signed into law, and it seemed the right moment to celebrate a milestone in equality during what has been a difficult year.
Unfortunately, the content of this post missed the mark. The 19th Amendment only truly codified the right to vote for white women. All Black women in the United States did not have full voting rights until the Voting Rights Act of 1965. When we stated that Women’s Equality Day celebrated the day American women gained the right to vote, we missed the opportunity to educate on a fact many of us were never taught in school – that women of color were very much left out in the cold on the day the 19th Amendment was signed. While we were aware of this and had discussed it previously, we failed to give it the spotlight it deserved.
Our members reached out to us to correct this major oversight, and we must humbly say this was a missed opportunity to educate. We spoke with several NEW members last week to hear their concerns and to learn, so we can move forward confident we are being strong allies to women of color. A wise member we spoke with hit the nail on the head when she told us that “If it isn’t for everyone, it’s for no one.” We will take this message to heart going forward.
Education starts with us, right here at NEW. We will model what we advocate for at this organization, and we must take the moments when we trip as opportunities to do better in future. Supporting women of color is a key priority for NEW, and will continue to be. We have taken action, but there is so much more we can be saying and doing. Trust that more is coming.