League of Women Voters plan 19th Amendment anniversary celebration

Celebrating a 100th anniversary is special.  The League of Women Voters, Montgomery County is making plans to celebrate women’s right to vote in style.

A century ago, the 19th amendment became part of the Constitution and women could vote for the first time.  The year also marks the official start of the League of Women Voters, the group that had been actively working for the right for years.

“The community is invited to a variety of events and celebrations that will reflect our mission of education for voters,” said Elizabeth Obenshain, president of the local league, “and making sure we know our history.”

The keynote event will be a Champagne Celebration at the Lyric Theatre, Saturday, Mar. 14, with a free showing of the award-winning film “Iron Jawed Angels,” the story of some of the history of the passage of the 19th amendment.

“We hope many in the community will come to see the film,” Obenshain said.  “And, stay for the champagne celebration after the film, about 4 p.m.”  There will be a few minutes of talking about Virginia’s and the local efforts along with the champagne toast to the pioneers’ success.

A local connection was that one of the Virginia women’s suffrage leaders in 1886, Lila Meade Valentine, of Richmond, tried to get her cousin who was president of Virginia Tech, to let her talk to the students.  The cousin, in the sentiment of the time, just couldn’t find a good date for her to talk to students about women voting.

Obenshain listed some of the other events.

Tuesday, Mar. 3, 10:30 a.m. at Warm Hearth Village Center, Carolyn Rude, retired Virginia Tech professor will talk on Introducing Black Suffragists.  It is part of the Lifelong Learning Institute at Virginia Tech.

Saturday, Mar. 21, 10 a.m. at Warm Hearth Village Center, a theatre production by Virginia Tech and Radford University students and faculty will present a special performance of scenes for suffrage called “Yellow Rose or Red Rose:  Scenes from the Suffrage Movement.”

Saturday, May 2, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. “Women and the Vote” theatrical presentations by Virginia Tech and Radford University students will be at the Alexander Black House.

The history also will be on display at the Alexander Black House in a show coordinated by Grant Hamming.

March 6 to April 5, an exhibit of changes in Women’s clothing will be on display at the Wallace Hall Gallery at Virginia Tech.

To focus on the League’s education mission, it will host an election analyst and forecaster, Rachel Bitecofer, to speak at its annual meeting, Thursday, April 23, Warm Hearth Village.  Her work is featured at national level news media.  A senior research fellow at the Niskanen Center in Washington DC, she is assistant director of the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University.

Many organizations will be creating programs to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Constitutional Amendment which ensured women’s right to vote.  The Montgomery-Radford-Floyd Branch of the NAACP, which works with the League, is especially sponsoring many of the events.


-Mary Beth Johnson

League of Women Voters

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