The Promise of the 26th Amendment Remains Unfulfilled on its 50th Anniversary
BY ROSALYN BAKER & WHITNEY WILLIAMS
This month marks the 50th anniversary of the 26th Amendment, which lowered the voting age from 21 to 18. Decades ago, one of us, Rosalyn Baker, directly helped achieve this expansion of voting rights for young people, while the other, Whitney Williams, continues fighting today to ensure these hard-earned rights are not diminished. Incredibly, this is still a battle that needs to be fought.
Fifty years ago, young people and voting rights advocates saw their push for lowering the voting age stall in Congress. In the years prior, thousands of men ages 18-20 were drafted to the Vietnam War and lost their lives in a supposed defense of democracy, heightening calls for expanding the right to vote to 18-year-olds. Just as youth advocated for women’s right to vote in the 1920s and again for the meaningful extension of voting rights for Black people in the 1960s, young people from across the political spectrum took to the streets to push for congressional passage of the 26th Amendment.