Beyond the 19th Amendment

The suffrage movement didn’t end in 1920 with the passing of the 19th amendment. Many women still had to continue to fight for their right to vote. As the 100 year anniversary of the 19th amendment comes closer we need to acknowledge the full timeline for voting equality in our county.

Before Native Americans could earn the right to vote they needed to become citizens first, which was a struggle for many years. In 1876, the Supreme Court ruled that Native Americans were not citizens and thus cannot vote, it wasn’t until 1887 when the Dawes Act passes that grants citizenship to Native Americans, but in order to do so they had to give up their tribal affiliations.

In 1890 the Indian Naturalization Act granted citizenship to Native Americans whose applications are approved no matter their affiliations. In 1924, The Indian Citizen Act grants citizenship to Native Americans, thus letting them vote, but states still make laws that prohibit them from trying to voting. In 1947, New Mexico and Arizona were the first states required to give the vote to all Native Americans. Over the years more and more states gave Native Americans the right to vote and in 1956 Utah was the last state to give both Native American men and women the right to vote.

Between 1854-1882 about three hundred thousand Chinese arrived in the U.S. drawn to the California gold rush and jobs in mining and railroad construction. Chinese immigrants quickly became targets for white workers, who blamed them for driving down wages. As a result, The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 banned people of Chinese ancestry and other Asian immigrants from becoming naturalized U.S. citizens. The Chinese Exclusion Act did not end until 1943, when the United States lifted the immigration ban, allowing them to become citizens and vote.

Finally, in 1952 the first generation of Japanese could become citizens in the US thus providing the end to the Asian American ban from voting, both men and women.

In 1848,The Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo ended the Mexican-American War and guaranteed U.S. citizenship to Mexicans living in the Arizona, California, New Mexico, Texas, and Nevada territories. However, they were denied the right to vote by English proficiency, literacy, and property requirements along with violence, intimidation, and racist nativism. Mexican American women earned the right to vote in 1920 like all white women, but again were denied because of their limitations in literacy and violence. It wasn’t until the Voting Rights act of 1965 that caused a stop to any election practices that denied the right to vote based on race or ethnicity and the banning of literacy tests.

Despite the 19th amendment, African American women were still facing a number of issues, mostly in the south. At first, African-American women in the North were easily able to register to vote, but white southerners took notice of African American female activists organizing themselves for suffrage. This caused white people’s fears about them wielding political power so African American women found themselves targeted by a number of disenfranchisement methods. These included having to wait in line for up to twelve hours to register to vote, pay head taxes, and undergo new tests, one being required to read and interpret the Constitution before being eligible to vote. In the South, African American women faced even more severe obstacles to voting. These obstacles included bodily harm and fabricated charges designed to land them in jail if they attempted to vote. All of this didn’t end until the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965.

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