You all know what that means: It's quote of the week day. Today's comes from a suffragette who, like her compatriots in their great cause, had reason to celebrate on this date in 1919. By a 56-25 vote, the U.S. Senate followed the House's lead and passed the 19th Amendment, capping decades of debate in Congress on an issue that -- from our perspective -- never should have been so contentious. But such is the slow march of progress, which in this case culminated the following year when Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the amendment, thus enshrining it into law.
The suffrage movement had many advocates, but it needed tireless warriors to press for change that was dispiritingly late in coming. Fortunately, an impressive list of leaders persevered in that task. We know many of their names well: Julia Ward Howe, Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucy Stone, Mary Church Terrell. But lesser-known figures played important roles too, including Frances E.W. Harper, an African American who in 1866 urged white suffragists to include black women in their fight for the vote. All of these women spoke with courage and conviction.
It's another black woman, Ida B. Wells, who spoke with perhaps the greatest courage. Born into slavery in 1862, she became a fearless journalist, crusading against lynching and other atrocities of the Jim Crow era. Wells also carried the torch for women's suffrage, so she was fighting for equality on two daunting fronts. But Wells, who died in 1931 having seen one-half of her hopes for progress realized, remained strong. Despite endless threats against her life, and shunning by some of those she sought to join in the women's movement, she was stalwart till the end:
"I'd rather go down in history," she once said, "as one lone Negro who dared to tell the government that it had done a dastardly thing than to save my skin by taking back what I said."
Carl M. Cannon is the Washington bureau chief for RealClearPolitics. Reach him on Twitter @CarlCannon.