Local League of Women Voters celebrates centennial

Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906), first crusaded against slavery, then for the rights of women to vote.

LEWISBURG — It was only 100 years ago that about half the adults in America could not vote.

That inequity changed with the passage of the 19th Amendment, a fact which will be celebrated with three upcoming events held by the League of Women Voters of the Lewisburg Area. The first is a Lunch Forum titled “The 100-year Struggle: Women’s Fight to Gain the Vote,” at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 28 at La Primavera, 2593 Old Turnpike Road, Lewisburg.

A 100th Anniversary Celebration of the founding of the league and ratification of the 19th Amendment will be from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday, March 8 at the Campus Theatre, 413 Market St., Lewisburg.

A Historic Cemetery tour highlighting women of the past in leadership will also be held from 11 a.m. to noon on Saturday, April 11, starting at the Lewisburg Cemetery Chapel.

Teri MacBride, League of Women Voters of the Lewisburg Area president, said Mary Zimmerman would be the keynote for the “100-year Struggle” talk. MacBride commended Zimmerman, immediate past president of the league, for her scholarship on women’s issues and women’s history.

MacBride said the 100th Anniversary Celebration at the Campus Theatre would be a joyful day to recognize what the women’s vote means. Women serving as elected officials will also be honored with talk and a toast.

The Historic Cemetery Tour would be led by Nancy Neuman. MacBride said Neuman, on the board of the Lewisburg Cemetery Association, would be joined by Bert Dunkerly. They would highlight women of the past who were community leaders.

MacBride credited Neuman, former national president of the league, for her knowledge of the league and local women.

“It is not an original quote from me but it was a long road for women to get the right to vote,” MacBride said. “It took decades of commitment and in some cases some really difficult periods.”

MacBride said it was unheard of in the day for women to march in the streets and protest for a cause.

“It did take years of effort,” MacBride added. “To persuade those in power that they should open society to more voices in the interest of a more full-some democracy.”

There was also negotiation with men in power to pass the 19th Amendment. Passage notwithstanding, MacBride noted African-American women in the south, Native American women and other minority women were disenfranchised for years after 1920.

Voting rights were still a relevant topic of discussion.

“I think it is problem across the nation that there are still people who are disenfranchised,” MacBride observed. “(They) do not find it easy to vote, who may be discouraged or not confident that their vote matters.”

The League will continue to encourage everyone to register to vote in every election, regardless of whether it is municipal or national.

MacBride called the state passage of Act 77 in the fall a sign of progress. It allowed mail-in voting without excuse and registration up to only a few days before an election.

“Those are important changes,” MacBride concluded. “Hopefully they will allow people who are working a little bit easier time. Or if they are disabled in some way or don’t have transportation, those are good things. But there is more work to be done.”

MacBride said the year would be filled with other events to recognize the 19th Amendment.

Staff writer Matt Farrand can be reached at 570-742-9671 and via email at matt@standard-journal.com.

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