Stand Up, Speak Out: Feminists on the Past, Present and Future of Voting Rights

From ‘No Vote to Suffrage’ to Shelby v. Holder, and why we still must fight for our right to vote.

Stand UP, Speak OUT: The Personal Politics of Women’s Rights (SUSO) is an online docuseries that tells the story of the dramatic shift in women’s lives over the last 50 years, empowered by the mid-20th century expansion in women’s legal rights—and the hard-won freedoms and independence at risk today.

Through multi-generational conversations with their older and younger female relatives, women who came of age during the tumult of the late 1960s share their personal stories of how the legislative and social changes of the mid-20th century propelled their historically unprecedented lives of opportunity and independence.

“Stand Up, Speak OUT” Episode 1, titled “Equal Pay for Equal Work,” traces women’s ongoing struggle for the recognition of the value of their workΩ–from no pay to the Equal Pay Act of 1963 to the World Cup Pay controversy; Episode 2 tackles voting rights—from no vote in 1789 to the 19th Amendment; Jim Crow to the 1965 Voting Rights Acts; 2013 Shelby v. Holder to voter suppression, today.

Get to know the past, present and future of voting rights by tuning into Episode 2 of “Stand UP, Speak OUT” on the SUSO page, or via the videos below.

Know Your Rights

There are five segments—short stand-alone videos—in each episode, the first of which is Know Your Rights: an introduction to the right featured in the episode that illustrates its history from the first suffragist champions, to major mid-20th century legislation, and present-day vulnerabilities.

In SUSO Episode 2, “Know Your Rights” tells the story of American women’s long and arduous fight for a voice in the laws and policies that affect their daily lives – from no vote in 1789 to the 19th amendment; Jim Crow to the 1965 Voting Rights Acts; 2013 Shelby v. Holder to voter suppression, today. By exercising their right to vote, women’s involvement in America’s political life has expanded from 1920 to the centennial of women’s right to vote—elected to political office and appointed to governmental agencies, women played crucial roles in laying the groundwork for the landmark social justice programs of the New Deal and the Great Society. Today, with voting rights under attack, women are still fighting to defend this vital right.

Speaking OUT

The second portion of SUSO episodes is called Speaking Out, made up of segments of women of the 60s who illuminate how the right transformed their lives. By featuring these women’s personal stories, we show what we stand to lose if new legislation limits legal protection.

In SUSO Episode 2, we hear from a woman who reached voting age after the 1965 Voting Rights Act went into effect. As a child, she was outraged to learn that her parents could not vote because they lived in Washington, DC. As an adult, she knows the right to vote is too important and too fragile to take for granted.

Then and Now

Then and Now: In the final two segments of each episode, grandmothers, mothers and daughters discuss how far we’ve come, how the evolution of this right changed their lives, and the threats the right faces today.

In SUSO Episode 2’s “Then and Now,” multiple generations of American women share how voting rights laws have affected their lives. Women born after 1920 were the first generation to grow up with their right to vote guaranteed by the 19th amendment; yet many were disenfranchised by local reality or immigration laws.

Their daughters, women of the 1960s cohort, were able to vote freely without facing poll taxes or literacy tests; their granddaughters could vote in the historic 2016 election for the first female presidential candidate to appear on either the Democratic or Republican ticket; their great-granddaughters could eagerly anticipate reaching voting age.

Now, however, women of all ages are once again raising the alarm against new voter suppression laws in many states.

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BC Voices, Inc. is an organization dedicated to gathering and telling the stories of the lives of women who came of age in the late 1960s to early 1970s, an era of profound social, political and cultural change in American society, through the process of collecting their oral histories and creating documentary films.