How Women Won the Right to Vote (and Why It Still Matters)

This Saturday marks the 98th anniversary of the 19th amendment, which grants women the right to vote. And just a few days ago was the 53rd anniversary of the Voting Right's Act of 1965 (VRA), which prohibits racial discrimination in voting, like literacy tests, English-only ballots, violence, and poll taxes. And despite these major accomplishments, we're still fighting for voters rights a century later. One of the leading organizations involved is Drum Major Institute, a nonprofit organization that works to improve accessibility for all Americans to participate in our democracy through voting. It was founded by the key players involved in passing the VRA, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his attorney Harry Wachtel.

So when we had the chance to speak with Zoe Siegel, the chief strategy officer at Drum Major Institute, we were most curious to pick her brain about the biggest hurdles we're still working against. One of the major challenges is the landmark decision of Shelby County v. Holder, which "struck down Section 4 of the VRA," Siegel says. "This was the key section that allowed the federal government to identify localities and minorities who have historically faced racial discrimination at the ballot," she continues. Without Section 4, "17 states have been able to introduce restrictive laws to make it difficult for people to vote, like closing polling places and making voter registration more difficult, which disproportionately impacts minority populations."

And while we're still clearly facing plenty of obstacles and discrimination in voting today that show us just how much work we have left to do, we want to honor and learn from the women who fought for our right to vote. So today we're highlighting the 10 suffragettes who were instrumental to the movement, from Seneca Falls and beyond. Read on for a retrospective of the pioneering suffragettes and fierce civil rights leaders who paved the way for a more accessible and equal democracy.