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My Turn: Celebrating 100 years of women in our lives

Posted: March 21, 2013 - 12:08am

Flashing back through history, I would like to commemorate 100 years of courageous women in our lives.

I would like to start by posing a question — Do we hold our women dear — Wives, daughters, mothers, grandmothers, sisters and all the women in our lives? Yes, of course.

100 years ago on March 21, 1913 – our Territorial Legislature passed its first law, House Bill 2, An Act to Extend the Elective Franchise to Women in the Territory of Alaska, which granted women in the territory the right to vote. Meanwhile women in the United States were still not guaranteed that very right.

On March 3, 1913, the first major Women’s Suffrage national effort was undertaken, beginning with a massive parade in Washington, D.C., one day before Woodrow Wilson’s presidential inauguration. These brave women were calling for a constitutional amendment with the event featuring 8,000 marchers, including nine bands, four mounted brigades and 20 floats.

Though the parade began late, it appeared to be off to a good start until the route along Pennsylvania Avenue became choked with Marchers and the tens of thousands, of mostly men, in D.C. for the inauguration. These women were jostled and ridiculed by many in the crowd. Some were tripped, others assaulted. Policemen appeared to be either indifferent to the struggling paraders, or sympathetic to the mob. Before the day was out, one hundred marchers had been hospitalized.

So, what if our grandmothers’ grandmothers were there?

What if they were included in the hospitalized? Whether it would have been your right or your left, can you be confident that you would have delivered an angry closed fist to the jaws of those male chauvinists on that day?

In 1913, the mistreatment of the marchers amplified the event and helped propel women’s suffrage. The events that began in 1913 took another seven years to make way to Congress. By 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment finally secured the vote for women, seven years after the Alaska Territory legalized women’s right to vote.

During and after the battles fought, many women decorated their lapels with sunflower pins. These pins were a symbol of women’s courage throughout the fight for women’s suffrage.

Remembering the battles our women fought during this time of tribulation, let’s fast forward to 2013 — Are there any attacks on our voting freedoms today? What are some causes we stand up for? What color ribbon do we wear today?

• Herron started his service in the Alaska State Legislature in 2009 after 6 years as a legislative aide. He now represents House District 37 which covers the Kuskowim Bay, Western Bristol Bay, Alaska Peninsula, Aleutian Chain, Bering Sea Islands and Bethel.

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