Events include a photo op and parade on Aug. 26, the day of the centennial
By Suman Ganapathy
This year commemorates the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, certified into law Aug. 26, 1920, guaranteeing, and protecting U.S. women’s constitutional right to vote.
Plans to mark this historic milestone of democracy at an educational and informational booth at the 37th annual AAUW Wildflower Run by members of the Morgan Hill branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) were derailed due to the pandemic after the run scheduled for March 29 went virtual.
March through early July saw a time of bewildering and rapid change as we collectively struggled to adapt, morph, rethink, recreate, and re-plan our lives over and over again, and many events were cancelled.
However, the wildly successful first virtual Morgan Hill Fourth of July parade was a turning point. Evidently, people were clamoring for events even if they were virtual. Before long, we were contacted by our wonderful partners at Morgan Hill Women’s Week confirming that the fourth iteration of the annual event the week of Aug. 26 was still on, and we would be participating albeit in a changed format.
The news was the catalyst that roused us instantly into resurrecting our plans to educate, inspire and engage the community with renewed vigor to highlight the 72-year historical suffrage movement and the ongoing fight for equal rights. Relevant even today, since integrating women fully and equitably into our country’s economic, cultural, and political life has still proved elusive, there is much left to be done.
After all, AAUW has been around since 1881, and gender equity is part of our mission. Our values include intersectionality, inclusivity, intergenerationality, and empowerment.
A group of gritty and industrious AAUW members got together to implement activities and events as a tribute to the women who had fought and sacrificed to make women’s right to vote possible — not forgetting the male legislators who voted for it 100 years ago. We also needed to educate, inspire, and engage a new generation.
AAUW’s multi-pronged efforts intend to reach and teach the Morgan Hill community about the significance of the centennial in myriad ways. We festooned the Monterey Road corridor downtown with cheerful pennants in suffrage colors of white, purple & gold bearing the motto with the Centennial logo and the word VOTE in large letters to emphasize the importance of every voice. This visible decoration will infuse downtown with the effusive spirit of celebration amidst uncertain pandemic days.
Making our virtual presence felt, as part of the acclaimed Morgan Hill Women’s Week series hosted by the Morgan Hill Chamber of Commerce, we are presenting a Zoom panel discussion of esteemed educators speaking on the topic of “Educate, Inspire, Engage — Vote.” A panel of historians and educators will discuss the meaning of suffrage and follow the “Votes for Women Movement” from 1920 to today about Women’s Suffrage and equal rights on 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 25. Register for it and all their wonderful events at https://business.morganhill.org/events/calendar/ or https://www.facebook.com/events/221041795835722.
At 3:15 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 26, the actual anniversary day of the signing, we invite you to join us for a brief photo shoot on the lawn outside the Morgan Hill City Hall where we will present two bench plaques to the Morgan Hill Historical Society as a lasting tribute to the 19th Amendment Centennial. We will also honor local woman leader extraordinaire, Virginia Mae Days, the first Morgan Hill female mayor and Superior Court judge.
A peaceful suffrage parade/walk in partnership with the Women’s Equality Series is next at 4 p.m. Join our walk, duly masked and clad in purple, white and gold, at the downtown train station on Depot Street. We will end with cupcakes and pictures at the nearby Grange Building.
There is more. Between Aug. 26 and Sept. 30, please follow the AAUW Centennial Trail of 20 stunning educational posters around Morgan Hill. They are an incredible labor of love and arduous work put together by incredible AAUW members. There are selfies to tag, prizes to win, and so much to discover for both adults and children. Please go to http://www.aauwmh.org/upcoming-events/ to learn more.
With all these ways to engage you — virtually, physically, visually, educationally — how wonderful it is that our beautiful city is marking this important occasion in so many ways. A lot of arduous work has gone into it to make the 100th anniversary of American women gaining the right to vote possible. We hope you will all participate.
Suman Ganapathy is a member of the Morgan Hill branch of the AAUW. She wrote this for Morgan Hill Life.