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SF leaders celebrate 19th Amendment ahead of crucial recall election

San Francisco leaders gathered on the steps of City Hall Thursday to commemorate the 1920 adoption by Congress of the 19th Amendment, which gave many women the right to vote.

The women’s suffrage movement notoriously excluded Black women, who would keep fighting until the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965.

Joined by Mayor London Breed, City Administrator Carmen Chu and other city officials, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi challenged women to vote and be heard in every election. City leaders particularly stressed the importance of women’s votes in the upcoming Sept. 14 recall election of Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Ching Wong/SFBay R-L: City Administrator Carmen Chu, State Board of Equalization Member Malia Cohen, and Supervisor Catherine Stefani pose for a vote after a rally held on Women’s Equality Day encouraging women to vote in the upcoming election at City Hall in San Francisco, Calif., on Thursday, August 26, 2021. (Ching Wong / SFBay.ca)

Chu said at the celebration:

“We know that when women vote, when women participate, things can change.”

Women consistently wield power at the ballot box, turning out at higher rates than men since 1984, according to the Pew Research Center

Ching Wong/SFBay House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, speaks during a rally on Women’s Equality Day encouraging women to vote in the upcoming election at City Hall in San Francisco, Calif., on Thursday, August 26, 2021. (Ching Wong / SFBay.ca)

Pelosi pushed back on media narrative at the time the 19th Amendment was ratified, with newspapers claiming women were ‘given’ the right to vote, reminding the crowd:

“It was a big fight that was historic, and it was transformative. Here we are 101 years later, women in positions of high responsibility.”

Breed said the celebration was also a call on women and allies to continue fighting for goals yet to be achieved, like equal pay and equal representation in government. She added:

“Today we show up with our ballots, so that our voices are heard. So that regardless of who is in office, they know that they are accountable to women and what we care about.”

District 2 Supervisor Catherine Stefani urged the crowd not to not pave the way for a “misogynist” to become the next California governor.

While she did not name a specific candidate, Stefani referred to statements leading Republican candidate Larry Elder made 21 years ago in a Capitalism Magazine article about women voters. Elder claims California Democrats distorted his words.

Ching Wong/SFBay Alison Goh, president of the League of Women Voters of San Francisco, speaks during a rally on Women’s Equality Day encouraging women to vote in the upcoming election at City Hall in San Francisco, Calif., on Thursday, August 26, 2021. (Ching Wong / SFBay.ca)

Highlighting the election’s high stakes, Stefani encouraged women to vote “no” on the recall, saying:

“Women, you just cannot afford to be complacent right now. The leading candidate to replace the governor who everyone is talking about does not care about women and does not care about the issues we care about.”

Details about voting in the upcoming election can be found at https://sfelections.sfgov.org.

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