Women are ripping it up this week from the Super Bowl to the State of the Union.
Whether you’re in camp outrage or support, let’s at least agree on one thing: Women can wear white before Memorial Day.
Across the country, women are doing so to acknowledge the 19th amendment’s centennial when in 1920, American women earned the right to vote.
It took the suffragists nearly 80 years to turn the law, and one of Susan B. Anthony’s great fears was that we would forget how difficult it was to achieve.
Anthony was an activist on the forefront of women’s rights throughout the 1800s. She died in 1906 when only a few states had granted women the right to vote.
Anthony was confident we’d get there and said, “The world has never witnessed a greater revolution than in the sphere of woman during this 50 years.”
What would she make of the fashion sphere at the Super Bowl, I wonder!
She was right. I take voting for granted; it’s hard to imagine not having this right. But whether or not we appreciate the history, the suffragist spirit lives on and this year many women are doing their part to remember the past.
The League of Women Voters and other organizations are planning celebrations throughout the year. The league is also celebrating its centennial founded during the 1920 National American Woman Suffrage Association, or NAWSA, convention to help women participate in and carry out their new voting responsibility.
As I understand it, the El Paso league formed a year before – Texas granted women voting rights in 1919 – and one of its charter members was Belle Christie Critchett, who worked hard on women’s suffrage and the legal status of women in El Paso.
Maude Sampson Williams was another important suffragist in our history. The African-American activist formed the El Paso Negro Woman’s Civic and Equal Franchise League and sought membership to NAWSA but was denied. She did not give up on the cause, however, and there is an account that African-American women were the first women to register to vote.
A few weeks ago El Paso’s Executive Forum – a civic group of El Paso women leaders – held its annual meeting and dedicated a program to this past. See our photos on page 22.
They also celebrated the present, and El Paso lawyer Sylvia Firth put together a program honoring our women elected officials.
Firth is traveling Texas on her own campaign for president of the State Bar of Texas. If she wins, she would be the agency’s first Hispanic female president. Only six other women have served as the Bar’s president and Firth could be the first from El Paso since at least 1935.
In doing her homework, Firth found that of our locally elected officials, 40% are women. We outpace the state average with the number of female district judges and, don’t forget, we elected our first Hispanic woman to Congress.
As Firth put it, El Paso has much to celebrate.