ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- It's a historic day, and not just because of the Florida Primary. On August 18, 1920, the 19th Amendment was ratified.

Now 100 years later, we sadly see some similarities between now and then.

What You Need To Know

  • August 18, 2020 marks the centennial of the 19th amendment

  • 1918 saw the influenza pandemic

“In 1918, of course we had influenza," said Linsey Grove, League of Women Voters St. Petersburg President. "That is actually historically something that ended up really propelling the women’s rights movement and really getting the President and a lot of political leadership to better women’s rights. So it is interesting on our 100 year anniversary we are also dealing with a Pandemic.” 

While it is harder than typical years to cast our ballot for health and safety reasons thanks to Coronavirus, the fight to cast it 100 years ago was even harder. 

With a big sigh, Grove said, "1920 was essentially almost 100 years at that point of women fighting for suffrage."

“Black women for as far back as the 1830s were fighting and struggling for the right to vote. I mean it wasn't something new. The suffragette movement wasn't something new," said Terri Lipsey Scott, Executive Director of the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum

The names Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton are familiar to almost every American. Here in Florida, a few more names are worth knowing as well.

Eleanor McWilliams Chamberlain was pushing for women to get the right to vote in the late 1800s in Tampa. Also, Virginia Burnside ran and was elected to office in St. Petersburg in July, 1920.

“Here in St. Pete, one of the first women to sit on City Council, who was elected, Virginia Burnside, her election was contested because it, she, the votes had happened before the ratification of the 19th amendment," said Grove.

Burnside did secure the seat, starting a legacy of women holding office in Florida. But with this victory and the victory of women voting, this did not necessarily mean every womon would get to vote. For women in the South, especially African American women, the right to vote would take many more years of fighting.

“I don't know necessarily that it is a celebration for African Americans per say. When we reflect upon the passage of the 19th amendment, 1920 and realizing that that ratification is not all inclusive," said Lipsey Scott.

This story is just part one of a three part series by Spectrum Bay News 9 Weekend Anchor Erin Murray.