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00000174-a288-ddc3-a1fc-bedb7f240000On August 18, 1920, Congress ratified the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, giving women the right to vote.Women’s suffrage is a major event in American history and a milestone in the national aspiration of the equal right of every individual to participate in their government.To commemorate this historic event, the Kanawha Valley Chapter of the National Organization for Women has produced “One Hundred Years Ago,” 11 two-minute radio segments to highlight the decades of struggle in this movement. Three of these segments describe West Virginia’s dramatic role in the struggle.The production was based on extensive research conducted by Renate Pore (Ph.D. History, West Virginia University). Author, singer, songwriter, and graphic artist Colleen Anderson narrates the segments. The theme music “Possum Rag” was written by Geraldine Dobyns in 1907.Listen Tuesdays and Thursdays in the morning at 6:42 a.m. and in the afternoon at 4:49 p.m. in February and March.The series is made possible by a grant from The West Virginia Humanities Council.For more information about the West Virginia Centennial Celebration of the 19th Amendment, including a growing list of events planned throughout the state, visit https://sos.wv.gov/about/Pages/WV19Amend.aspx. Read about Kanawha Valley NOW activities on Facebook.

West Virginia Celebrations Mark 100th Anniversary Of Women’s Right To Vote

Reenactors in period costume at the recent Suffrage Centennial event at the West Virginia Culture Center
Janet Kunicki
/
WVPB
Reenactors in period costume at the recent Suffrage Centennial event at the West Virginia Culture Center

The 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote, is Wednesday, Aug. 26. Across the state, in-person and virtual commemorations will honor the day.

Congress passed the 19th Amendment in June 1919, with West Virginia becoming the 34th state to ratify it. It was added to the U.S. Constitution on August 26, 1920.

Renate Pore, the president of the Kanawha Valley Chapter of the National Organization of Women and an historian, said women marched and protested for nearly 75 years before they gained the right to vote. And it is important to remember that. 

“I think it's important to remind people that social change takes a long time, and it takes an ongoing struggle,” she said. 

For Pore, it is important to remember the sacrifices of the women involved.

“I want people to acknowledge that these women were real heroes in our struggle for a more perfect democracy,” she said. “Many of them gave their lives and their livelihoods. In the latter part of the struggle in the 20th century, women were arrested, they were thrown in jail, they were forced fed. I want people to understand that the vote is really important and how long people struggled to get this important right.”

Pore thinks that if West Virginia had not ratified the amendment, the push would likely have lost momentum and it might not have passed in 1920 at all. 

Planned Activities

Gov. Jim Justice and Secretary of State Mac Warner will host a special presentation on Wednesday at 2 p.m. about the history of women’s suffrage in West Virginia. It will include the presentation of a proclamation commemorating the anniversary. The ceremony will be broadcast live to the Secretary of State’s Facebook Page.

Several organizations are also hosting events across West Virginia including:

Aug. 25 from 5-6 p.m. in Dunbar – GFCW Woman’s Club of Dunbar hosts the 100th Celebration March. Open to the public. Period attire and signs are encouraged. The march will begin at Econo Lodge (100 Dunbar Ave, in Dunbar) and end at the 13th Street Parking Lot.

Aug. 26 at 11 a.m. (Virtually) – The WV Women’s Commission announces the 2020 Legacy of Women Award winners. These awards are given to women who have participated in shaping the state or the nation and our role as women achievers for tomorrow’s female leaders. The awards are named for outstanding women in West Virginia’s history. The event will take place live on the Women’s Commission Facebook page.

Aug. 26 at 11:00 a.m. in Clarksburg – The Progressive Women's Association of Harrison County will host a presentation on women's suffrage and will feature women who are current or former elected officials. The Harrison County Commission will also present a proclamation declaring "Women's Equality Day" in Harrison County.

Aug. 26, at noon (Virtually) – Kanawha Valley NOW will sponsor a virtual presentation on suffrage and ratification of the 19th Amendment in West Virginia. Zoom Link: Zoom Meeting ID: 894 3702 8485. Passcode: 326070.

Aug. 26, at noon in Berkeley Springs – Members of Eastern Panhandle NOW and Daughters of the American Revolution will host a speech regarding suffrage on the Morgan County Courthouse steps. Additionally, the Berkeley Springs Museum will unveil a suffrage display at the event. The display features many women involved in the movement, including local suffragist Georgia McIntire, a lawyer who had many firsts, including the first woman to try a case in the WV Supreme Court of Appeals.

Aug. 26 at 5:30 p.m. (Virtually) – Girl Scouts of Black Diamond Council will host Courage, Cookies and Cocktails – a virtual event. Learn more and register here.

Aug. 26 at 6 p.m. (Virtually) – WVU Libraries hosts a virtual talk with Barbara Evans Fleischauer & Eleanor Smeal - Barbara Evans Fleischauer, member of the West Virginia House of Representatives will introduce Eleanor Smeal, former president of the National Organization for Women and publisher of Ms. Magazine. This program will be hosted virtually on Zoom. Register to participate.

For more events and information about the Coordinating Committee, visit https://sos.wv.gov/about/Pages/WV19Amend.aspx

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