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Mendocino County Women’s Organizations Celebrating Woman’s Sufferage at the Kelley House

The following is a joint press release issued by the League of Women Voters of Mendocino County, Mendocino Women’s Political Coalition, Soroptimists, and Cloud Forest Institute:

Photograph of Catherine Flanagan (Left) and [Mrs. William Upton (Madeleine) Watson?] ( R) of the National Woman’s Party being arrested as they picket with banners before the White House East Gate. Heckling sailor to left, policemen left and right, arresting policewoman center, crowd of men behind. [Photograph and caption from Wikicommons]

Mendocino County women’s organizations are planning a belated celebration of women winning the vote on Saturday, August 21, from 1 – 3 pm on the Kelley House lawn in Mendocino. California State Treasurer Fiona Ma is the keynote speaker. The League of Women Voters of Mendocino County (LWV), Mendocino Women’s Political Coalition (MWPC), Soroptimist, and Cloud Forest Institute postponed the 100 year anniversary event scheduled for last year due to Covid. This year’s celebration will include music by the Coast Women’s Choir, oral histories, poetry and speeches. Priscilla Comen and Jane Person plan to portray suffragists Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Carrie Chapman Catt, and Loreto Rojas will speak about new citizen voting. Fort Bragg city council member and Soroptomist Tess Albin-Smith will moderate.  A parade at 1 PM will start and finish at the Kelley House to kick off the program

This is a proud tradition, which we have enacted in 1995, 2000, 2005, 2010 and 2015. The event is free and the public is warmly invited to join the celebration. Bring a chair.

On August 26, 1920, after three generations of an unrelenting, brilliant, courageous, political campaign, women in the United States won the right to vote. To honor and commemorate the historic date of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, Congresswoman Bella Abzug introduced a Congressional Resolution to ensure that this date would be commemorated with the designation of Women’s Equality Day, which is celebrated on August 26th each year. We women living here today enjoy the fruits of what the suffragists won for us—our right to vote, and our enhanced ability to shape the way we want to live. Women in several states, including California, could vote in state and local elections prior to 1920, but full voting rights have only existed 101 years.

As of June 14, 2021, there are 119 women in the U.S. House of Representatives (not counting four female non-voting delegates), making women 27.4% of the total of U.S. representatives. The U.S. Senate has 24 women, 24%. Even after 101 years of voting women still fall far short of equal representation in elected federal offices.

When suffragists won the right to vote in 1920, women did not suddenly have equal opportunities. For example, women could not join “MEN’S” clubs like Masons, Lions or Rotary. It was almost 90 years later in 1987 the Supreme Court forced integration of gender-exclusive institutions.

The Soroptimist Club started 100 years ago in Oakland, CA, when a group of professional women formed a service club for women. Today there are over 1,300 Soroptimist Clubs in 21 countries and territories around the world. The organizations core values are Gender Equality, Empowerment, Education, Diversity and Fellowship.

The League of Women Voters was founded on the belief that winning the vote wasn’t enough.  Voters—men and women– needed to be aware of issues and be a part of the democratic process.  Since 1920 the League has been an activist, grassroots organization whose leaders believed that everyone should play a critical role in democracy.  Throughout the years the League has maintained its dual purposes of education and advocacy, engaging in studies on representative government, international relations, natural resources, and social policy.

Mendocino Women’s Political Coalition is dedicated to advancing gender equality through political and educational activities. MWPC endorses women and men candidates who actively support and promote the organizations objectives: cultural diversity, economic opportunity for all, female candidate recruitment, reproductive choice, child/elder care, and a sustainable environment. MWPC conducts campaign trainings and candidate public forums. It offers financial and other campaign support to endorsed women candidates.

The program on August 21st will exemplify both the struggle to gain the vote and the importance of women voting. For information contact Lynda at 895-3243 or lynda@pacific.net.

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