Women’s History Month: ‘Valiant Women of the Vote: Refusing To Be Silenced’

Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley
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Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley

The month of March might be known for the best basketball games of the season on both the collegiate and professional levels, but the 31 days that bridge winter and Spring also is reserved for Women’s History Month.

Great women from all walks of life are celebrated during the annual nationwide observance – and for good reason. They have played pivotal and vital roles in shaping America. From Florida Supreme Court Justice Barbara Pariente and Florida Fourth District Court of Appeal Judge Melanie May, to famed aviator Amelia Earhart and civil-rights figure Rosa Parks, they and countless others forever will stand out in the annals of time.

“Women’s history is full of trailblazers in the fight for equality in the United States,” according to a History.com article titled “Women’s History Milestones: A Timeline.” “From Abigail Adams imploring her husband to “remember the ladies” when envisioning a government for the American colonies, to suffragists like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton fighting for women’s right to vote, to the rise of feminism and Hillary Clinton becoming the first female nominee for president by a major political party, American women have long fought for equal footing throughout the nation’s history.”

This year’s Women’s History Month theme expands upon the 2020 theme, which focused on the 100th anniversary of the women’s right to vote and the 19th Amendment. Many events recognizing the centennial of the suffrage movement had to be canceled or postponed because of COVID-19. The 2021 theme is “Valiant Women of the Vote: Refusing To Be Silenced.”

“The National Women’s History Alliance is determined that the important roles of multicultural suffragists and voting rights activists continue to be recognized and honored,” the alliance states on its Web site. “We refuse to allow their voices to be silenced, even by a pandemic. Many organizations have already rescheduled and extended their centennial events into 2021. With national attention moving on, 2021 will particularly recognize the remarkable new research, grassroots political activity, and artistic developments in every state. These deepen our understanding and shine a brilliant new light on local women’s political involvement, development, and leadership. Despite tremendous opposition, they refused to be silenced.”

The alliance has identified a class of 2021 honorees, living and dead, who reflect and support the theme. Among them is Carrie Chapman Catt (1859-1947), the suffragette who succeeded the aforementioned Anthony as president of the National American Women’s Suffrage Association.

“During her time as a suffrage advocate, Catt helped with the organization of the International Woman Suffrage Alliance (IWSA) in hopes of spreading Democracy around the globe,” according to the alliance. “After the passage of the 19th amendment, Carrie Chapman Catt founded the League of Women Voters just six months before the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified. She gave her talents towards the banishment of child labor and the ideals of world peace. In 1933, Catt worked on behalf of German Jewish refugees and was awarded the American Hebrew Medal for her efforts.”

The other memorialized honorees are:

  • Lucy Burns (1879-1966)
  • Wilhelmina Kekelaokalaninui Widemann Dowsett (1861-1929)
  • Ana Roqué de Duprey (1853-1933)
  • Elizabeth Piper Ensley (1847-1919)
  • Marie Foster (1917-2003)
  • Mabel Ping-Hua Lee (1896-1966)
  • Virginia Louisa Minor (1824-94)
  • Anna Howard Shaw (1847-1919)

The National Women’s Hall of Fame wrote of Dr. Shaw, “Reverend Doctor Anna Howard Shaw, minister, physician, ardent feminist, and masterful orator, worked to improve individual morality through her ministry, tried to improve society by moving into the temperance and suffrage movements, and finally campaigned vigorously for the League of Nations to promote world peace. While Shaw died just before the Women’s Suffrage Amendment was ratified, she fulfilled her vision of success: “Nothing bigger can come to a human being than to love a great cause more than life itself.”

Voto Latino CEO Maria Teresa Kumar, Democratic District of Columbia Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, Asian Americans Advancing Justice’s Terry Ao Minnis and Smithsonian curator Edith Mayo comprise the living honorees. Who will be the honorees in 2022 and the years after that? While those chapters have not yet been written, it is a certainty that whoever is added to the list will have affected the United States with the same fortitude as her predecessors.

“Women’s History Month highlights the shift in cultures around the globe,” Sgt. Ashley Goodman, of the 31st Force Support Squadron, said in a news story on the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Web site titled “Honoring Women’s History Month.” “It allows us time to reflect on what women have both achieved and overcome throughout our history.”

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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