TRENTON, N.J. – The 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote in America was ratified on Aug. 18, 1920. Assemblyman Kevin J. Rooney introduced a resolution this week commemorating the 100th anniversary and authorizing the secretary of state to implement programs to encourage women to exercise their right.
“Change did not come easy,” said Rooney (R-Bergen). “It took the sweat and tears of hundreds of thousands of tireless suffragists who refused to take ‘no’ for an answer. The struggle to topple the status quo was sustained for 72 long, grueling years.”
Finally, more than 8 million women celebrated their victory on Nov. 2, 1920 by voting in the election.
“Many of the visionaries who helped start the fight for equality never lived to see their efforts pay off,” said Rooney. “This resolution celebrates their tenacity and dedication, and the steadfast efforts of all who followed in their footsteps in the battle for voting rights for women.”
The resolution calls on the secretary of state to establish goals and programs for registering new female voters.
“This anniversary is a perfect opportunity to educate young women about the value of voting and its role in our republic,” said Rooney, a father of three daughters. “I know how important it is for them to remain engaged and active voters. Voting is a privilege that should be valued and exercised. Future generations depend on it.”
Activists from New Jersey played crucial roles in the struggle for equality.
One of the most influential suffragists, Alice Stokes Paul was born in Mount Laurel and dedicated her life to securing equal rights for all women. Alice Stone Blackwell, from Orange, was a leader in the movement and editor of an American women’s rights newspaper.
In 1920, two other women’s suffrage leaders were the first women elected to the Legislature. Jennie Van Ness of East Orange and Margaret Laird of Newark, both Republicans, were sworn in to the Assembly in January 1921.