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Planning under way on commemoration of 100th anniversary of a woman’s right to vote

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INDIANAPOLIS – Efforts in Indiana to observe the 100th anniversary of women having the right to vote are now gaining speed, thanks to bipartisan legislation that creates a commission to commemorate the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution on August 18, 1920.

Several co-authors from the Indiana House Democratic Caucus – the first majority women’s caucus in the state’s history – as well as other state representatives and senators, joined Gov. Eric Holcomb at a ceremony today to observe the passage of Public Law 87 (House Enrolled Act 1394), which creates the Indiana Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission to plan and develop activities that celebrate the passage of the 19th Amendment. Indiana was the 26th state to ratify the amendment on January 16, 1920.

“Through this commemoration, we hope to inspire Hoosiers to think, read, and talk about the history and significance of this event,” said State Rep. Karlee Macer (D-Speedway). “We want to highlight the role that Hoosiers played in seeing the right to vote become a reality in our state and throughout the nation. We also want to show what can happen when people choose to get involved in the democratic process, and what can happen through a little persistence and willingness to make our communities, state, and country better places to live.”

The 17-member commission will include lawmakers, representatives from the state’s executive and judicial branches, and lay members involved in education, culture, woman’s history, and civic engagement. Other groups involved include Indiana Humanities, The Indianapolis Propylaeum, the Indiana Historical Society, and the Indiana Historical Bureau.

“While women’s suffrage may seem like an obvious idea now, it was a very controversial thing 100 years ago,” said State Rep. Carey Hamilton (D-Indianapolis). “Standing up for the right to vote required courage, perseverance, and organized activism. These are things that should be celebrated today, as we continually look for ways to ensure a just society for all.”

State Rep. Carolyn B. Jackson (D-Hammond) added, “Celebrating the process of securing the right to vote for women represents as much to me as celebrating the right of African-Americans to vote. These are crucial parts of understanding the fight to ensure equality for all.”

State Rep. Robin Shackleford (D-Indianapolis) noted that the celebration will afford opportunities for Hoosiers to explore ways to engage in community activities.

“It will help us remind people to take advantage of their right to vote,” Shackleford said. “Our hope is that it will encourage them to engage in causes near and dear to their hearts, and talk to the people who have fought for these precious rights, and learn from them about how to get involved.”

At the heart of it all will be the opportunity to educate young people about the history of the suffrage movement, and the lesson that can be learned to help encourage them to take a stand, according to State Rep. Melanie Wright (D-Yorktown), who works as a teacher at Daleville Community Schools.

“It is a chance to look back at our history, and an opportunity for our children to be inspired to look ahead and carry the legacy of these valiant women and men who fought for women’s suffrage,” Wright said. “The months to come will be a wonderful time for us to see the value of working toward a society that gives equal opportunity to all.”

State Rep. Sheila J. Klinker (D-Lafayette) said, “Since becoming a member of the Indiana General Assembly, I have seen changes in the number of women running for office and winning. This positive growth of women representing districts across our state is a testament to the hard work of women and men 100 years ago, who were successful in their fight for a woman’s right to vote. I look forward to celebrating and seeing how this commission continues to elevate women across Indiana.” 

State Rep. Sue Errington (D-Muncie) noted, “The women’s suffrage movement was a true grassroots effort of women from across Indiana and our country. This commission and celebration is also meaningful for those of us who were involved in the successful Equal Rights Amendment ratification effort in our state in 1977. I look forward to the events celebrating the centennial anniversary of the 19th Amendment, and I will continue to be a voice for all women in the General Assembly.”

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