PBS celebrating 100th anniversary of 19th Amendment with home release of ‘American Experience: The Vote’

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PBS is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment with the release Tuesday on DVD and digital of “American Experience: The Vote,” a documentary about the crusade waged by American women for their right to vote. [PBS photo]

PBS is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment with the release Tuesday on DVD and digital of “American Experience: The Vote,” a documentary about the crusade waged by American women for their right to vote.

Directed by Michelle Ferrari, “The Vote” 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 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, according to a news release.

Narrated by Kate Burton, the series gives voices to the unsung warriors of the movement: Mae Whitman voices Alice Paul, Audra McDonald voices Ida B. Wells, Laura Linney voices Carrie Chapman Catt, and Patricia Clarkson voices Harriot Stanton Blatch.

“The Vote” highlights some of the key women who championed suffrage: For example, Wells was an early leader in the civil rights movement and was one of the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). She also became involved in the women’s suffrage movement and established several notable women’s organizations. She was arguably the most famous Black woman in America at that time.

Suffragists decided in 1915 to concentrate their energy on the passage of a federal amendment. One faction of the suffragists, the National American Woman Suffrage Association led by Catt, was determined to pursue a moderate course of action by working within the political system. Meanwhile, Paul’s National Women’s Party deployed more confrontational and controversial methods of practice.

Paul was a well-educated, singularly-driven force of the movement’s third generation, which used the new, “unladylike” tactics that heightened the movement’s visibility as thousands of American women took to the streets to boldly demand their right to full and equal citizenship.

In its final decade, from 1909 to 1920, movement leaders wrestled with contentious questions about the most effective methods for affecting social change, debating the use of militant, even violent tactics, as well as hunger strikes and relentless public protests. The battle also upended previously accepted ideas about the proper role of women in American society and challenged the definitions of citizenship and democracy.

Exploring how and why millions of 20th-century Americans mobilized for – and against – women’s suffrage, “The Vote” brings to life the unsung leaders of the movement and the deep controversies over gender roles and race that divided Americans then – and continue to dominate political discourse today.

The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which granted women the right to vote, was proposed by Congress on June 4, 1919, and was ratified on Aug. 18, 1920.

To buy “American Experience: The Vote,” click here.

To stream it and read more about it, click here.

-BAM

 

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