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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 1/23/13

The Emancipation of Women -- An Invitation to Participate -

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The recent election in 2012 brought out vocally the sordid comments about women and women's rights by many of the Republican Party. Here we are in 2013 and the Equal Rights Amendment has yet to be ratified even though Alice Paul wrote the amendment in 1923. She attempted to have women's rights to become part of the Constitution in 1917. The history of Alice Paul and the women who worked with her has been told of how the women picketed the White House and were thrown in jail where their treatment was terrible. When Paul went on a hunger strike, she was force fed and this led to a public outcry about their prison abuse.

The 15th Amendment stated in "Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. What it did do was give black men the right to vote. This did not give women of any color their right to vote or their rights to be emancipated.

In 1917, in response to public outcry about the prison abuse of the suffragists, President Wilson reversed his position and announced his support for a suffrage amendment, calling it a "war measure." In 1919, both the House and Senate passed the 19th Amendment and the battle for state ratification commenced. Three-fourths of the states were needed to ratify the amendment. The battle for ratification came down to the state of Tennessee in the summer of 1920; if a majority of the state legislature voted for the amendment, it would become law. The deciding vote was cast by twenty-four year-old Harry Burn, the youngest member of the Tennessee assembly. Originally intending to vote "no," Burn changed his vote after receiving a telegram from his mother asking him to support women's suffrage. On August 18, 1920, Tennessee ratified the 19th Amendment. Six days later, Secretary of State Colby certified the ratification, and, with the stroke of his pen, American women gained the right to vote after a seventy-two year battle. August 26th is now celebrated as Women's Equality Day in the United States. This did not give them total emancipation.

Paul was the original author of a proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution in 1923. The ERA would not find its way to the Senate until 1972 when it was approved by the Senate and submitted to the state legislatures for ratification. Approval by 38 states was required to ensure adoption of the amendment. Not enough states -- only 35 -- voted in favor in time for the deadline. However, efforts to pass the ERA passed by Congress in the 1970s are still afoot, as well as efforts to pass a new equality amendment, and almost half of the U.S. states have adopted the ERA into their state constitutions. We need only three states to ratify this amendment. The hold-outs are: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia. We need only three of these states for women to have their freedom and emancipation.

On January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued an Emancipation Proclamation. According to, "It was based on the President's constitutional authority as commander-in-chief of the armed forces; it was not a law passed by Congress. It proclaimed all those enslaved in Confederate territory to be forever free, and ordered the Army (and all segments of the Executive branch) to treat as free all those enslaved in ten states that were still in rebellion, thus applying to 3.1 million of the 4 million slaves in the U.S." What occurred was the December 1865 ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment, which made slavery illegal everywhere in the U.S. This is important because his Proclamation forced the ratification of the 13th Amendment.

It is time we women and men begin bombarding President Obama to issue a Proclamation of Emancipation of women and that they receive their full equal rights as all males have. It takes a seed to be planted and to grow. What I am suggesting is a seed for our emancipation. No woman should be denied her right to abortion. No woman should be told that contraceptives are not available to her. No woman should be discriminated in the work places. No woman should receive less pay than a male while doing the same type of work.

I am requesting each woman or man who reads this article to send a message to President Obama asking him to issue a Women's Proclamation for Emancipation and request a reply that he would do so. I am requesting each woman or man to forwarded this article to everyone on their email list, every club or organization they are aware of and asking each to bombard the President asking that he issue a Proclamation of Emancipation for women and continue to do so until the Equal Rights Amendment is ratified. In particular, the 15 states named above need to be deluged with requests for ratification.

"SOLITUDE of SELF" ~ Elizabeth Cady Stanton 1892
"The strongest reason for giving woman
All the opportunities for higher education.
For the full development of her faculties,
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Bettye Johnson is the award-winning author of Secrets of the Magdalene Scrolls, an Independent Publishers Book Award Winner 2006. Moving from the cotton fields in Texas to the embassies of Paris and Tokyo, Bettye Johnson has a woven tapestry of (more...)
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