Billie Jean King has long been a pioneer for equality and social justice. She founded the Women’s Tennis Association, the Women’s Sports Foundation, the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative and was the co-founder of World TeamTennis. In 1973 she won the Battle of the Sexes tennis match against Bobby Riggs, an event that catapulted equality forward. This story will be told in the upcoming movie, “Battle of the Sexes” starring Emma Stone and Steve Carell and opening nationwide September 22nd.  

Congratulations to the Arizona Celebrates the 19th Amendment group. You are leading the way in recognizing the important anniversary of a woman’s right to vote.

As a history buff, I have long been a student of the women’s movement. The more we know about history, the more we know about ourselves. As we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us, we are more empowered. I am inspired by the vision and sheer audacity of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott who organized the first Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, New York, and advocated for the radical idea of women’s right to vote, to own property, to keep her wages, and to get a university education.

Susan B. Anthony turned down several marriage proposals because the laws at the time would have made her the property of her husband. She left her job as a teacher and traveled the country speaking and organizing groups of women to advocate for women’s right to vote. She did this for over 50 years and died six years before the 19th amendment was passed. Her lifetime commitment inspires me.

Alice Paul led the faction of women who wanted a constitutional amendment giving all women in America the right to vote. Another faction worked to get women’s right to vote state by state. She and hundreds of other Suffragists took the handoff from Anthony and Stanton and carried the ball over the goal line to pass the 19th Amendment and won the right to vote for women.

It was signed into law on August 26, 1920 and changed our world forever.

Alice Paul also proposed the Equal Rights Amendment for the first time in 1923. The challenges for women today are many and the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment is critical to ensuring that the laws that protect us today cannot be overturned. History shows us that countries where women are more equal and have the most political power also have the least violence against women. We need women who care about women to run for office.

I encourage you to study your history because it will give you the courage to think outside the box and to be bold. I am humbled and honored when people tell me that I have inspired them. I took great inspiration myself from the women who came before me and I hope you will continue to inspire others in your life. Every time you try something bold you are an example for others to do the same.

Keep Going For It!

Billie Jean King