Today I received an email from a dear friend reminding me how far women in our country have come with respect to two things: (1) women’s right to vote, and (2) women’s right to hold office. Neither (1) or (2) were freely given to our female ancestors a century ago. As was so correctly noted in the email many courageous women fought a good fight even from jail cells to win our rights as women to vote and to hold office. But, I see an unapealing pattern happening in this country. Many of my sisters are skipping election day for a needed manicure, or simply because “I forgot” and then not giving it another thought as if they missed one day of something of much lesser importance. This trend is appalling to me. I can not stand it! Every time I step into a voting booth, every time I hear a woman in office speak I remember ‘it wasn’t always so easy’ for women like my grandmother Donnell who braved jail for weeks at a time just so her daughters and then I could place a mark beside someones name on a ballot sheet. So we could be part of the process. So we could have the same rights given to any other person of voting age in this country regardless of sex or circumstance.
Least We Forget: (quoted from email)“Remember, it was not until 1920 that women were granted the right to go to the polls and vote.” . . . My step-mother was born in 1916, was six years old when her mother first voted in a local election. Mama reminisced the occasion with me many times. She spoke of her mother who braved a line of what she called “back-woods stupidity lined up like foul-smelling pails of maneuver spitting out tobacco on her mother’s shoes” . . . I think I remember her words right . . . She wanted me to be a women of merit, not one who took the easier path but who stood her ground, politically because her mother had paid so dearly for the right! Mama never missed an election day at the poles. And although, Mama never walked a picket line in protest or marched along side Rosa Parks she was the reason I did such things and she is the reason I vote! A legacy is the action we take because of the actions of others have taken before us and the actions we pass forward.
Build your legacy. Teach by example. Vote! Teach by example: Least we forget about names like: “Lucy Burns whom they beat and chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air.” And Dora Lewis whom guards “hurled into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold.” “Thus unfolded the ‘Night of Terror’ on Nov. 15, 1917, when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson’s White House for the right to vote. For weeks, the women’s only water came from an open pail. Their food–all of it colorless slop–was infested with worms.” . . . “When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press.” Actually, and few realize this, but it was Woodrow Wilson and his cronies who tried to persuade a psychiatrist to declare Alice Paul insane so that she could be permanently institutionalized. The doctor refused stating that Alice Paul was strong and brave and ‘strong & brave’ did not make her crazy.
I challenge every reader, woman or man, young or old to: Get out and Vote!