Professor Catherine Powell and USC Gould School of Law Professor Camille Grant co-authored an op-ed for CNN on the anniversaries of the 15th and the 19th Amendments. Powell and Grant emphasize the importance of these anniversaries as the 2020 presidential election approaches.
Last month, Americans celebrated the centennial of the 19th Amendment, recognizing women’s right to vote. This celebration rings hollow — as we hurtle toward the 2020 election — if we fail to learn from the ways that race has been used to fracture women’s efforts toward coalition politics and our collective understanding of our rights. For example, even as Senator Kamala Harris’s historic role as the first woman of color to run for vice president on a major party ticket energizes feminist coalitions, Donald Trump’s divisive manipulation of racial stereotypes seeks to fracture and obscure women’s shared interests.Notably, 2020 is also the 150-year anniversary of the 15th Amendment, recognizing the right of Black men to vote (though for many Black men, reality would look very different until well into the 20th century). And yet, significantly less media attention has focused on that anniversary, much less the intersection of these two constitutional amendments. The coinciding anniversaries mark an historic juncture — an inflection point in which we as women can solidify our collective power across race and class by fighting to safeguard the right to vote of all women — including for those whose vote Trump would suppress.…Voter suppression is both a racial justice and a feminist issue, and Trump knows it. Black women are clearly a threat to him as the most reliable voters for progressive, pro-feminist candidates. Consider the facts: African American women were key in carrying US Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) and Democrats in Virginia (a swing state) to victory in recent elections; were more likely to vote for Hillary Clinton than White women in the 2016 presidential election; and are predicted to be central to the 2020 presidential election. Black feminist historians are now recovering the once invisible role of women of color in the history of women’s suffrage and voting rights.