The 14th Amendment of the Constitution was adopted in 1868 to deal with race discrimination and to dismantle racial segregation at the end of the Civil War. It also, for the first time, added the word “male” to the text in regards to voting. Essentially, this amendment guarantees all citizens equal protection of the laws, but it wasn’t until 1920 and the ratification of the 19th Amendment that women finally had the right to vote. Alice Paul, famed suffragette, felt that even with the passing of the 14th and 19th Amendments, women still were not being protected by the Constitution. Thus, the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) movement was born.
Since 1923, Alice Paul and others have reworked original wording for the Amendment to include the following three sections:
Section 1: Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.
Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.
It took close to 50 years, but in 1972 Congress finally passed the ERA. However, it was never ratified by the required 38 states -only 35. The 15 states that still have not ratified the ERA are: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, and Virginia. Yes, Illinois is one of them – our neighbors to the East.
As we celebrate our freedoms during our September Project initiative, think about how far we’ve come as a country, and what we need to do in the future to ensure our freedoms remain.
To learn more about the “Unsung Heroines” of Iowa, please join us for a special evening of history and glamour as Miss Black Iowa USA, Deidre Howard, visits the Main Library to unveil the Unsung Heroines display. The event will happen on Thursday, October 1, at 6 p.m., and is sponsored by the African American Museum of Iowa. More information can be found on our website calendar of events.