On August 26, 2020

‘Hard won, not done’: A call to honor suffragists and empower the vote

On Wednesday, Aug. 26, Woman’s Equality Day and the Centennial Anniversary of 19th Amendment, members of the Vermont Suffrage Centennial Alliance (VSCA) will join with local citizens throughout the state to commemorate the historic passage of the 19th Amendment guaranteeing women the vote.

One hundred years ago, in the final push for suffrage, women picketed in front of the White House six days a week, holding banners and using silence as protest. These silent sentinels, numbering approximately 2,000 over 2 1/2 years, faced derision, arrest, jail, and torture.

Silent no more, VSCA  invites Vermonters to gather in  public spaces in their towns any hour between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. — in front of the post office, town hall,  library — urging passers-by to reflect on the importance of the vote for all citizens. Participants are urged to display non-partisan handmade signs, wear a 1920s hat or a Votes for Women sash, and engage in dialog about the importance of voting — while observing protocols of social distancing and face coverings. Suffragists, a century ago, wore white, purple, and yellow, and a yellow rose.

“This grassroots, local involvement echoes the beginnings of the women’s suffrage movement,” said VSCA events committee member and Middlesex resident Linda Radtke. “Vermont suffragists began to gather in the parlor, then in church basements, the town hall, and eventually, the State House in Montpelier. Some of them, such as Lucy Daniels from Grafton, joined the marches in Washington D.C.’’

Because of their unstinting perseverance, women finally won the vote nationally when Congress certified the 19th Amendment on Aug. 26, 1920.

However, the 19th Amendment left an incomplete legacy. Contributions of African American suffragists were not recognized and millions, including African American women, Native Americans, Mexican-Americans, and Asian-Americans were prevented from voting for another 45 years.

VSCA member Dell McDonough said, “Many, many women across this country made speeches, sent letters, talked to neighbors and actively agitated for the right to vote. A century later, equal rights for all citizens is still incomplete. Hard won, not done. We still have work to do.”

For more information visit vtsuffrage2020.org.

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