At the core of democracy in the United States is a long debate over voting rights. Martin Luther King, Jr. echoed abolitionist Theodore Parker when he adopted the metaphor of the arc, as in "the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Barack Obama, borrowing from the U.S. Constitution, anticipated progress for a nation that was on "the path to a more perfect union." What these framings elide is how, across our past as a nearly 250-year-old nation, debate rather than progress has best characterized American democracy. Contests over voting rights troubled the United States from its very start. And, today this foundational facet of our democracy continue to generate debate—and change—in our own time. Black women's leadership on the right to vote reveals how contests over the character of the body politic have challenged every generation. History strongly suggests that our future will include much more of the same.