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The 19th Amendment and the Olden Days

Yesterday was the 90th anniversary of the 19th Amendment. You probably know what that was, but I’ll bet that’s only because Sarah Palin made some rather clever comments about ewoks in marking that date. Come on, a week ago today, how many of you would have correctly answered an open ended question like “what is the 19th amendment to the constitution?” I’m not sure I could have done it, and I’m a former lawyer and an “A” student. I wouldn’t have been alone, either–most of us think the right to vote comes from the Bill of Rights. (A majority of us also can’t identify which century the American Revolution took place in.)

Perhaps if it had been a multiple choice question: What is the 19th Amendment to the Constitution?

a. the one that says we can bear arms.

b. the one that says we can arm bears.

c. um…maybe something about Panama?

d. the one giving women the right to vote.

as long as you didn’t add a realistic sounding e, such as “the one giving black people the right to vote,” I’d have nailed that one on a quiz. But I”m ashamed to say that before yesterday, I might easily have failed to give the right answer to an open question, and if you asked it backwards—which amendment to the constitution gave women the right to vote? I know I’d have failed. And that’s shameful. 90 years. 90 years. Within the last century, during both of my grandmothers’ lifetimes, people were arguing about whether or not women should be allowed to vote. It’s astonishing. The 19th amendment should be tattoo’d on the inside of my arm, or at least on the inside of my skull. 90 years.

So of course I took advantage of this opportunity to teach my kids something important about rights, women’s issues and the importance of the franchise, right?

Well, no. Not exactly, no. Um, no.

If I had a good reason why, which I don’t, really, you’d find it here at Strollerderby.


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