Special programming continues this summer as part of Nine PBS’ celebration of female trailblazers, which honors the centennial of women’s right to vote.
The Vote, part of the American Experience series, premieres with part one on Monday, July 6, on Nine PBS. Part one repeats Tuesday, July 7, followed by part two.
The four-hour documentary series tells the dramatic story of the epic— and surprisingly unfamiliar— crusade waged by American women for the right to vote.
Focusing primarily on the movement's militant and momentous final decade, the film charts American women's determined march to the ballot box, and illuminates the myriad social, political and cultural obstacles that stood in their path.
In 1920, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gave women the right to vote. Although rightly regarded as a milestone for both American women and American democracy, the 19th Amendment was not quite the simple turning point it is generally perceived to be. Millions of women voted before the amendment and millions more were prohibited from voting after it, particularly African American women in the South. Nor was the ballot a favor bestowed upon women by an enlightened, progressive society.
The right to vote was fought for, and won, by three generations of American women who, over the course of more than seven decades, not only carried out one of the most sustained and successful political movements in American history, but were also the first to employ the techniques of nonviolent civil disobedience that later would become the hallmark of American political protest.
Dramatic and thought-provoking, The Vote is, at its core, a story about power—"who has it and who doesn't want to give it up," says constitutional lawyer and writer Michael Waldman. "We're still fighting over who has that power.
Presenting history in a bold new way, American Masters— Unladylike2020 on July 14 brings the incredible stories of pioneering women to life through rare archival footage and interviews with descendants and historians. Modern-day trailblazers also enrich the content with dynamic juxtapositions of past and present.
Some of the women featured include Bessie Coleman, the first African American to earn an international pilot's license; Susan La Flesche Picotte, the first Native American physician who also founded a hospital on the Omaha Reservation; Jeannette Rankin, the first woman elected to the U.S. Congress; Gertrude Ederle, the first woman to swim across the English Channel; Sissieretta Jones, the first African American to sing opera on the main stage at Carnegie Hall; and Lois Weber, the first woman to direct a feature-length film, among many others.
This article appeared in the July/August 2020 issue of Nine Magazine.