This month, on what would have been my mom’s 90th birthday, I spent some time looking over an assortment of things I brought home after her memorial service last year. In among the stack of pictures and cards was a birthday booklet I had sent her on her last birthday. You know, one of those the-world-on-the-day-you-were-born compendiums. Woodrow Wilson was president… “The Human Fly” climbed 30 stories up the side of the Woolworth Building in New York… prohibition went into effect… the Royal Canadian Mounted Police started operations… Adolph Hitler made his first public political speech in Austria… women were first granted the right to vote…
Only in my mother’s lifetime?
The right to vote seems so basic. Like something that would have come in with the American Revolution. But no. Not for anyone who wasn’t male and white. As my baby mom lay in her cradle, American women dared to do such impertinent things as carry signs demanding the right to vote. They even stood in front of the White House with the signs. And those women paid a price for their audacity. They were grabbed… beaten… arrested… chained… flogged… choked.
I found a list of the women imprisoned for daring to voice this request, and one was a 19-year-old by the name of Matilda Young (in the picture). My mom was Marjorie Young. I wonder… could Matilda have been related to her? To me? I surely would be proud to claim her!
The year of my mother’s birth was the year the 19th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States was passed. It was the year women finally got the right to vote.
In every election, all the years I was growing up, my mom voted. Always. Until the last year of her life. Had my mom lived one more year, she would have voted on her 90th birthday. And she would have had choice words to say about anyone too busy or preoccupied to do the same.
Thank you, ladies. Thank you, Mom.
“If you don’t vote, you have no right to complain about anything that’s done.”
Marjorie Young Marshall, my mother