19th Amendment history

Riché J. Daniel Barnes, associate professor of gender studies at Mount Holyoke College, spoke to Mass Appeal about the 19th Amendment.

By Christian Feuerstein

August 18, 2020, was the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which secured the right of American women to vote. 

Riché J. Daniel Barnes, associate professor of gender studies, was on Mass Appeal to talk about the history of the 19th Amendment, and how its passage still excluded Black women. 

“Well, in theory, the 19th amendment was meant to give women in the United States the right to vote. It was hard fought. And it did not include initially everyone,” she said.

Women’s suffrage and the abolition movements were closely aligned, Barnes said. She explained that women were not considered fully capable of voting. “There were a lot of ideas that suggested that women were a lesser sex, didn’t have the mental acumen to be able to vote ... and if they did have the mental acumen, they would probably vote like their husbands and their sons, so there was no reason really to give them the vote,” she said. 

“Black women were very much excluded from the conversation when the 19th Amendment was passed. Once the 15th amendment was passed … and gave Black men the right to vote, white women in many ways split from the conversation that included Black women,” Barnes said.

Watch the segment.