As she stood with fellow elected officials Tuesday commemorating the 100th anniversary of Congress’ passage of the 19th Amendment, Bowling Green City Commissioner Dana Beasley-Brown shared an experience she said she will never forget.
One Saturday afternoon last year, while Beasley-Brown was knocking on doors as part of her campaign, she was greeted by a woman who suggested “wouldn’t it be better for me to be at home taking care of my children,” Beasley-Brown said.
“My spirit was a little crushed after I left that door,” she said, adding that the encounter left her wondering “if I was doing the right thing for my family.”
At the very next door, Beasley-Brown met another woman: a concert pianist who had traveled the world and who told her “that I could do anything that I wanted to do, and that I should pursue it with everything in me.”
For Beasley-Brown, the moment marked how far women have come in participating in political life and the distance they still have to go.
On Tuesday, Beasley-Brown joined fellow City Commissioner Sue Parrigin and Warren County Magistrate Doug Gorman in proclaiming the day as a celebration of the 19th Amendment, which recognized women’s right to vote.
The ceremony at the Kentucky Museum at Western Kentucky University was part of a kickoff event for Journey to the Vote. It’s a yearlong campus celebration leading up to the centennial of the states’ ratification of the 19th Amendment on Aug. 18, 1920, which formalized women’s suffrage.
A list of events and more information about the initiative is available at wku.edu/go/journey.
Also speaking during the event, state Rep. Patti Minter, D-Bowling Green, read a resolution from the state’s House honoring WKU and the Kentucky Museum for organizing Journey to the Vote.
“As a woman, I stand here knowing that a hundred years ago I would not have been able to stand here,” Minter said, noting she wouldn’t have been able to formally participate in the political process.
“I stand humbly on the backs of these giants who have made history and changed the country so that 50 percent, or more, of its people could participate,” Minter said.
The event also featured exhibits of Bowling Green suffrage leader and author Eliza Calvert Hall and Victoria Woodhull, the first female candidate for president and a leader in the suffrage movement. The exhibits will be on display during regular museum hours.
Victoria Gordon, a political science professor who’s organizing Journey to the Vote at WKU, said the goal is to tell a fuller story about the 19th Amendment. Even after the 19th Amendment, Gordon noted, there were still barriers to universal women’s suffrage, particularly for black women and black Americans in general.
“While we are focusing on the positives today of the 19th Amendment, we certainly recognize that there was a long, hard struggle, and that we’re not done yet,” Gordon said.
– Follow education reporter Aaron Mudd on Twitter @BGDN_edbeat or visit bgdailynews.com.