Century Old Fight For Equality Continues

May 7, 2020

While schools are closed, we're creating a series of "Talk of Iowa" episodes that will be fun and educational for learners of all ages. Every Tuesday, we'll learn about Iowa wildlife, and every Thursday, we'll learn about Iowa history.

The nation is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. This amendment gave women the right to vote.

During this episode of Talk of Iowa, political scientist Karen Kedrowski explains how the 19th Amendment was the culmination of a long battle for women’s suffrage, but it wasn’t the end of the fight for equal rights for women.

This was a movement in which Iowa and Iowans played an important role, as well as African American women who are often overlooked, but were involved in the battle. We’ll also learn about the Equal Rights Amendment – which passed both houses of congress and was ratified in Iowa in 1972, but is still not part of the U.S. Constitution.

Karen Kedrowski is director of the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics at Iowa State University. Eric Morseis the founding director of the Central Iowa Community Museum, one of the organizations behind a traveling exhibit called "Toward a Universal Suffrage." The exhibit documents the contributions of African American women to the suffrage movement in Iowa.

Later on, we hear from Jean Lloyd Jones. She was elected to the Iowa General Assembly in 1978, serving four terms in the Iowa House and two terms in the Iowa Senate. Jones’ work and political influence goes far beyond the state capitol and working toward equality for women has been one of the defining principals of her career.


  • Suffrage, noun the right of voting
  • Ratification, noun the act or process of ratifying something (such as a treaty or amendment) : formal confirmation or sanction
  • Amendment, noun the process of altering or amending a law or document (such as a constitution) by parliamentary or constitutional procedure
  • Activist, noun one who advocates or practices activism: a person who uses or supports strong actions (such as public protest) in support of or opposition to one side of a controversial issue
  • Abolition, noun the act of officially ending or stopping of something; the abolishing of slavery

Discussion questions & activities:

  • Why is voting important? Who do you think should be able to vote?
  • The women’s suffrage movement lasted seventy-two years, from the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848 to the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920. What cause do you think you could dedicate your life to working for?


  • Karen Kedrowski, director of the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics and professor at Iowa State University
  • Jean Lloyd Jones, former Iowa state senator
  • Eric Morse, founding director of the Central Iowa Community Museum