No, it's not fun reliving our dark and violent pasts, but had women like Amelia Boynton Robinson* not stood up for equality, the United States would be a very different place. You see, on August 26, 1920, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was passed granting women the right to vote. This came after a huge civil rights push culminating in the Selma marches and the deplorable Bloody Sunday.
Mrs. Boynton Robinson was one of the instrumental organizers of the Selma marches and helped persuade Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to be involved. She walked the front lines that day where she was knocked unconscious as seen in the photo below.
Can we talk about how most people just don't vote? In 2014, voter turnout was the lowest it's been since WWII. Nationally, 36.3% rocked the vote. WHAT?!
Now, I am fully aware of discriminatory voter registration laws, issues with access, and Media that doesn't always make it easy for the public to understand politics.
However, I'm also aware of the many well-informed, opinionated, and change-seeking individuals who defer their vote out of apathy, hopelessness, or disdain for our political system.
It's not just the lack of voter turnout in national elections that are alarming; state and local elections don't fare much better. In Grand Rapids' Primary Election, the city voted for a new mayor - the first after term-limits were voted on and implemented - only 15.5% of eligible voters showed up at the polls. While we should be proud that Rosalynn Bliss is the first female mayor in this great city, we should not pat ourselves on the back after that dismal turnout.
I think Banksy's recent murals summed up my thoughts quite poignantly. He released a series of murals in Gaza to support struggling Palestinians and try to show the world the true plight facing the area. My favorite, a kitten on a wall surrounded by destruction, was given this explanation:
"A local man came up and said ‘Please -- what does this mean?' I explained I wanted to highlight the destruction in Gaza by posting photos on my website -- but on the internet people only look at pictures of kittens."
Happy National Women's Equality Day!
*Amelia Boynton Robinson passed away at 104 years old on August 26, 2015.