New Jersey ratified the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), written by Alice Paul and Crystal Eastman. The ERA is designed to guarantee equal legal rights for all American citizens regardless of sex and seeks to send the legal distinctions between men and women in terms of divorce, property, employment, and other matters.
Congress passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965, a landmark piece of legislation prohibiting racial discrimination in voting.
August, 1964. Fannie Lou Hamer testified before the credentials committee at the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey after the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (FMDP) claimed seats originally allocated for Mississippi’s official delegation. The FMDP argued that Mississippi’s delegates were elected in violation of party rules because Black people were excluded from the voting process through voter suppression tactics. Fannie Lou Hamer served as vice chairperson of the FMDP and appeared before the committee in defence of the delegation’s seats. Her testimony, describing the violence and racist practices employed to keep Black Southerners from the polls, was broadcast live on national television.
An equal rights clause was added to the New Jersey State Constitution reading: “wherever in this Constitution the term ‘person’,’persons’, ‘people’, or any person pronoun is used, the same shall be taken to include both sexes.” (Article X, Paragraph 4).
February 10, New Jersey became the 29th state to ratify the 19th Amendment and by the end of August, the 19th Amendment had been ratified granting women the right to vote.
The Silent Sentinels who picketed in front of the White House, including New Jersey suffragists Allison Turnbull Hopkins, Julia Hulburt, Beatrice Reynolds Kinkead, and Minnie D. Abbott, were arrested and imprisoned.
A second suffrage constitutional referendum was waged in NJ, NY, PA, and MA with active campaigns by many suffrage organizations. One of the memorable events staged was the “Passing of The Torch of Liberty” via tug boats on the Hudson River from NY to NJ by Mrs. Havemeyer to Mina Van Winkle on August 15, 1915. After a very heated fight, the referendum was defeated in all four states in October 1915.
October 29, 1915. The New Jersey Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs was founded in Trenton, NJ. Dr. Florence Spearing Randolph was elected as the Federation’s first president. Dr. Randolph was a minister, social reformer, and suffragist who also served on the Executive Committee of the NJWSA.
The New Jersey Supreme Court handed down a verdict against suffragist and lawyer Mary Philbrook who was representing Harriet Carpenter ruling that women had no right to vote under the 1776 New Jersey Constitution and that the Constitution of 1844 was legitimate law of New Jersey.
NJWSA opened its first official state headquarters in Newark and printed its first yearly reports. They also joined forces with several other suffrage groups to form a Joint Legislative Committee to create a united front and work toward achieving a state referendum on women’s suffrage.