100 Years: Voices Of Women Voters

The summer of 1919 brought about a sea change in American politics. On June 4 of that year, Congress took the monumental step of granting women the right to vote by passing the 19th Amendment. It next went to the states for ratification. Although women in Texas had been voting in primaries for a year before the historic 1919 vote, this June marks the 100th anniversary that opened the door for women to vote nationwide.

These are the stories of civic-minded Texas women who are changing our world today inspired by a fundamental right: the right to have one’s voice heard.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Maxine Barkan: The Centenarian Former educator and former president of two League of Women Voters chapters in Texas. She turned 100 in March. She still gives talks about voting rights, leads her HOA, practices yoga and attends a book club.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Grace Chimene: An Original A retired nurse who was always politically active, she was more passionate about civic engagement than partisan politics. She is president of the League of Women Voters of Texas. The league is one of the original seven organizations that supported women in their quest to gain the right to vote.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Cristina Tzintzun: The Game Changer This grassroots, community organizer has been fighting for the rights of immigrant workers since 2002. In 2016, she founded Jolt, an advocacy organization that stages creative protests and mobilizes Latinos to vote.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Alice Yi: The New Face Of Texas Originally from China, this former scientist is mobilizing the Asian-American community to register to vote. The midterm elections of 2018 showed how crucial this demographic is becoming in Texas politics.

Gabriel C. Pérez/KUT

Julieta Garibay: The Suffragette As a foreign-born woman, she fought to gain her right to vote in the U.S. In January 2019, the State of Texas said she had voted illegally. She took the state to court and settled her case in April.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Senfronia Thompson: The Lawmaker During her lifetime, things have changed dramatically: African-Americans can vote, and no longer pay voting taxes. But full access to the vote, and women’s issues still exist. As the longest-serving woman in the Texas legislature, she’s still fighting.

Trish Nicholson: The Great-Grand-Niece She is a former features editor for AARP Bulletin. Her great-great-aunt was an officer of the national League of Women Voters, a lobbyist for suffrage and ran for the U.S. Senate and for Texas governor.

Courtesy Of Texas A&m Commerce

Jessica Brannon-Wranosky: The Historian For 15 years, she’s been searching for Texas’ hidden figures of suffrage – the women who, although not white, invested their lives in giving other women the right to vote.

U.S. Department of State/Public Domain

Kay Bailey Hutchison: The Ambassador She was the attorney who became a reporter because no law-firm in 1960s Houston would hire a woman. In 1972, she was elected to the Texas House of Representatives. In 1993, she was elected U.S. Senator. She’s the only Texas woman ever to hold that job.

Photo by Molly Smith

Daria Vera: The Marcher In the 1960s, Texas farmworkers made 40 cents per hour. Inspired by women activists of the past, this farmworker went on strike, marched hundreds of miles and blocked a bridge to change her working conditions.

Lynda M. González

Ada Villafañe: The Activist Puerto Ricans are Americans, but they cannot vote in U.S. federal elections. That changes when they move to the mainland and register. A lover of politics and civic engagement from childhood, she urges her community on the mainland to become politically active for their sake, and that of their home island.

Courtesy of Sheri Doss

Sheri Doss: An Original She is the first African-American woman to lead the Texas PTA. She’s been civically-minded since her youth, but a passion for education policy reenforced her commitment to the power of the vote. The PTA is one of the original seven organizations that supported women's fight for the right to vote.

Producer/Reporter: Joy Diaz

Audio Production: Leah Scarpelli, Kristen Cabrera

Web Editor: Shelly Brisbin

Photography: Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, Lynda M. González, Gabriel C. Pérez, Molly Smith

Production Assistant: Brooke Reaves