Happy Law Day- A celebration of the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote

Law Day, May 1, is a national day to celebrate the rule of law and its contributions to the freedoms Americans enjoy. Law Day had its origin in 1957, when American Bar Association (ABA) President Charles S. Rhyne envisioned a special day for celebrating our legal system.  On February 3, 1958, President Dwight D. Eisenhower established Law Day by issuing a Proclamation (PDF, 291KB).  Every President since then has issued an annual Law Day Proclamation.

The Law Day 2020 theme is “Your Vote, Your Voice, Our Democracy: The 19th Amendment at 100.” In 2019-2020, the United States is commemorating the centennial of the constitutional amendment that guaranteed the right of citizens to vote would not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of sex.

The eventual passage of the 19th Amendment, giving woman a right to vote was a long drawn out battle that lasted for about one hundred years; starting decades before the Civil War and culminating on August 18, 1920. On that day, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was finally ratified, enfranchising all American women and declaring for the first time that they, like men, deserve all the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.

As Covid-19 has taken precedent, and we adjust to a new way of celebrating, I thought, instead of giving a historical summary of the importance of the 19th Amendment or an early “get the vote out”, I would list the top five movies on women getting the right to vote. As you finish binge watching The Office, the Good Place or the Tiger King, consider checking out the following movies:

1.         Suffragette (Netflix, Amazon Prime)

This film, starring Carey Mulligan and Helena Bonham Carter with Meryl Streep shows the painful struggle of British women as they fight to get the right to vote two years before American women.

2.         Selma (Amazon Prime)

Starring David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King Jr., shows the protest marches from Selma, Alabama, to the state capital of Montgomery. During this period black men and woman were being denied access to the voting polls at every turn despite having the constitutional right to vote.

3.         Iron Jawed Angels (Hulu, Amazon Prime)

This film stars Hilary Swank as Alice Paul, the real-life suffragette and women’s rights activist who was one of the main leaders in pushing for the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.

4.         The Divine Order (Amazon Prime)

This film tells the story of a Swiss housewife and mother in a time of social upheaval in 1970. What is so interesting is that Swiss women didn’t get the right to vote until 1971, not that long ago.

5.         Mary Poppins (the original version, 1964) (Disney Plus; Amazon Prime)

The 1964 version depicts Mrs. Banks (the mother) as a suffragette and she sang, “Sister Suffragette” with infectious enthusiasm. Additionally,  one cannot forget such infectious songs as  “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” and “Chim Chim Cheree,”

Happy Viewing, Stay Safe and Vote (hopefully in November).

About Huma Zia, J.D.

Huma Zia, J.D. is Director of Paralegal Studies in the Department of Justice, Law, and Public Safety at Lewis University in Illinois.

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