February 8, 2021 | Brian Chappell

On Suffrage

August 18, 2020 marked the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which granted women the right to vote. Regardless of what was happening in the world, and in an election year, Mouse knew it would publish some of the key documents and stories from the movement that led to this landmark event. 

We always want to create series and books that speak to our moment. While we conceived of and created the Suffrage Series in anticipation of the 100th anniversary and the 2020 election, I am now composing this blog on 19 January, 2021, the eve of Joe Biden’s inauguration. But I had also written a draft of this blog over the summer. In that blog I wrote the following passage:

The 2020 US election will be one of our most consequential, not least because it will test our democratic structures, especially around voting. Whose rights will be upheld? Whose will be blocked? Who will have access to the booths? Who will not? In these times it is important to remember that certain things that seem normal and natural — like the ability to decide, by voting, who will lead us — did not come into being without a fight. And the fact that they needed to be fought for should remind us that there are still many people — many of whom hold our highest offices — who would like to see basic rights such as voting be denied or even rolled back.

I have the tendency to anticipate negative outcomes. Fortunately, many of my worst fears have not come to fruition. In this case, however, I understated the severity of what lay ahead. There is no need to review the events surrounding the 2020 election, which led to the assault on the Capitol on 6 January. And who knows what will happen from here? But perhaps now we can read these remarkable authors and texts with an even firmer that nothing about our democracy can be taken for granted. 

I hope you will, like I have, stand in awe of these texts, and the movement they represent. Together they constitute a robust, searing, eloquent indictment of profound injustice, a meticulous articulation of its causes, and an envisioning of its ameliorations. Ordinary people doing extraordinary things in the name of justice–this to me is America at its redemptive best.