Local organization sparking dialogue about 19th Amendment
By Ariel Parker, The ONEIL Center
Thought the 19th Amendment solved voting problems for women? Think again. The Dayton League of Women Voters hosted an event Thursday (Feb. 13) titled “The Complicated Struggle for Woman Suffrage” discussing realities and misconceptions about the amendment.
The event was hosted at Goodwill Easter Seals Miami Valley and about 40 people attended. A couple of local dignitaries were in attendance too including Karl Keith, Montgomery County Auditor, and Kenneth Henning, the Southwest Ohio Regional Liaison for the Ohio Secretary of State’s office.
The discussion was moderated by Jen Miller, executive director for the League of Women Voters of Ohio, with Carol Lasser and Treva Lindsey providing their insights on various topics. Lasser is an emerita professor of history at Oberlin College and Lindsey is an associate professor of women's gender and sexuality studies at Ohio State University. They also answered questions submitted by the audience via note cards towards the end of the discussion.
The panelists touched on a wide variety of topics including opponents to women’s suffrage, the connection of intersectionality with the movement and how abolitionists and suffragists were allies and adversaries over the years.
“Some people want to start the women’s suffrage movement in 1848 in Seneca Falls,” said Lasser. “There’s a history of women organizing for women’s rights that goes back before that. You can see that emerging in 1838 with the Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women.”
The panelists also discussed the distinction between the terms commemorate and celebrate in relation to women’s suffrage.
“We chose commemoration as opposed to celebration because we want to tell that complicated history that, when we say ‘women got the right to vote,’ not all women could access the ballot still,” said Lindsey. “I think it’s important to tell the history of how we got to that moment and what happens after the 19th Amendment as we move towards a more inclusive elective franchise.”
The panelists especially wanted to highlight Dayton’s role in the women’s suffrage movement. “Dayton has such a robust history in regards to suffrage activism even after the ratification of the 19th Amendment. Being able to connect with a community that is very much a part of the history that we’re writing was super important for us,” said Lindsey.
Next month, the Dayton League of Women Voters will host its “Centennial Dames of Dayton Celebration” dinner at the Dayton Art Institute. Susan Page, the Washington Bureau Chief of USA Today and political contributor for CNN and MSNBC, is set to be the keynote speaker.