Rachel, Manager of Energy and Sustainability, has spent the past 12 years with PetSmart. Join us as we celebrate Women's Equality Day with her!
The Belonging Program’s “I Belong” Series harnesses the power of empathy through storytelling. This series is intended to give associates a greater sense of understanding, a bridge to gain new perspective, and a way to build connection to each other. To learn more about the “I Belong” Series or to submit your stories, please visit our new Belonging Fetch Page.
Women’s Equality Day is celebrated in the United States every August 26 to recognize the passing of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guaranteed women the right to vote. This year we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment.
In Arizona, where I live, the first Tuesday of August was primary election day. My daughter and I sat together at the kitchen table and made some big decisions about who we wanted to vote for. My girl is only 9 years old, but she has been helping me complete my mail-in ballot since kindergarten. It is important that we share this experience because I vividly remember the days my mother picked me up from school and we went to vote.
During the 1992 presidential election, I wasn’t old enough to drive or to vote, but I wanted to participate, and my mom was there for me again. She drove me to the campaign headquarters and waited while I took shifts on the phone bank and stuffed envelopes for the candidate I supported. When November arrived, all I could do was hope the outcome would be the one I worked for. By contrast, four years later, when I was finally 18 years old and eligible, I cast my first ballot at the polling place on my university campus. I felt patriotism and pride. I felt powerful. Since then, I’ve rarely missed an election at any level of government because I believe being an informed voter is the best way for me to make a difference, and I hold my right to vote precious in my heart.
Many people think of the centennial of the 19th Amendment as the culmination of the suffragist movement and the beginning of women’s right to vote, but that is not where the story ends. People of color, especially Black women, continued the struggle for voting rights for another 45 years until the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which made it illegal to enact poll taxes, literacy tests and other discriminatory practices at the polls.
Women’s Equality Day is a perfect opportunity to talk to children about voting, and I’m proud to work for a company that supports and encourages this dialogue. It’s important to let kids know that the 19th Amendment was a milestone for equality, but not every American had the same experience. My family enjoyed reading Miss Paul and the President: The Creative Campaign for Women’s Right to Vote , but the story wouldn’t be complete without Lillian’s Right to Vote: A Celebration of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which tells of a Black woman’s journey to cast her ballot.
I am thankful for the women who came before us in the fight for the 19th Amendment. I’m proud of my friends and family and all the people who exercise their right to vote today. I’m hopeful for the future voters I see in my daughter and her friends. What an opportunity we have in the future generation to raise people who leave behind apathy for engagement and who make the world a better place. United Together we stand.