History in Film: 19th Amendment Ratification

On this day 97 years ago the 19th Amendment was ratified by the fifty states. This amendment forbid discrimination on voting based on sex. The landmark case was hard fought for by suffragettes like Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul, and Ida B. Wells. The fight took many years and even after the amendment was passed through Congress in June of 1919, it still took over a year for the states to finally ratify it.

Even then, not all women were granted the right to vote with this amendment; it would take until 1924 for Native American women to gain the right to vote, 1943 for Chinese-American women, 1965 for barriers restricting voting access for African-Americans to be outlawed, and 1975 for barriers restricting voting access for Latinos to be outlawed.

Decades of fighting and lobbying and protesting all for a Constitution-given right is something that should be honored. Check out some of our movies and documentaries on the various fights for this important right as well as movies about other pioneers for women’s rights.

Iron Jawed Angels

iron jawed angels

Chronicling the suffragette fight in the 1910’s of Alice Paul, Iron Jawed Angels is a brutally honest look at the barriers these women faced. The women faced their very Constitution given rights being violated with their ability to protest being curbed, cruel and unusual punishment used in lockup, and the denial of access to a lwayer. It’s a disturbing look at the lengths people will go to to prevent justice being served – but also a look at how far these women were willing to go for what they believed in.



Though the focus is put on Martin Luther King Jr. and the racial tensions surrounding the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the fact of the matter is that African-American women were barred from voting just the same as African-American men. The film chronicles Dr. King’s fight to gain these rights for men and women both. It should be noted that director Ava DuVernay is a woman and has made history in her own way; with her upcoming project, A Wrinkle In Time, having a budget of over 100 million, she will become the first black woman to direct a live-action film with a budget of that size.

Hidden Figures

hidden figures

Based on the true events of the work done by a group of three African-American women for NASA, Hidden Figures gives viewers a glimpse into the lives of these women during the Civil Rights movement, when many places were still segregated. The film also goes into the barriers the women faced for their gender – from the obnoxious comments about women not being smart to the more serious moments of the women being barred from important meetings. This double hit of racism and sexism made it seem nearly impossible for these “women computers” to get their work done but through their perseverance and spirit, they broke barriers and paved the way for the women who came after.

North Country

north country

Based on the true events of the landmark case, North County details the fight of a woman to ban sexual harassment in the work place. As a worker in a mine and a single mother of two, Josie is subject to much ridicule and harassment, as are her female coworkers. When the higher up s refuse to help, Josie takes matters into her own hands and tries to build a class action lawsuit against the mining company for sexual harassment. The film condenses the time it took for the suit to settle in real life – while the movie seems to take place over little more than a year, the real suit took fourteen years to win. Still, it’s a realistic look into the lives of working women – and a stark reminder that fighting for civil rights didn’t end with the 19th Amendment.

written by: Kassie Marie