Aug. 26 marked the 95th anniversary of an important victory: the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote.
But few people know that the battle over this ratification was fought for 72 years. Sadly, it’s an issue that’s glossed over or whittled down to one chapter in many of our history books.
Women circulated countless suffrage petitions and gave speeches on street corners, churches, convention halls, and ordinary homes. They lobbied, campaigned, demonstrated, and persuaded. These brave and valiant women were attacked by mobs and frequently harassed (both physically and verbally), and many were thrown in jail.
Still, with little legal or financial backing, they persevered. Most of us have heard of Susan B. Anthony, but I wish names like Lucy Stone, Elizabeth Stanton, and Alice Paul were as recognizable to children as Benjamin Franklin or Teddy Roosevelt.
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I write this letter not only because of this historic anniversary, but because the Benton County voter turnout was 16.7 percent, the lowest among all Washington counties that held primary elections Aug. 4. Fellow Benton County citizens: voting is a privilege, and we can do better than this! Please honor our heroic ancestors this November by voting!
Bree Bowen, Board Member, League of Women Voters of Benton & Franklin Counties