Submitted by The League of Women Voters of the San Juans
The League of Women Voters of the San Juans held a Centennial Celebration on February 12, to mark the 100th anniversary of the founding of the national League on February 14, 1920 by Carrie Chapman Catt to help women become informed voters. The occasion also marked that 2020 will be 100 years since women won the right to vote. League members, elected officials and candidates past and present, and a wide variety of community members attended the event at the Mullis Center.
President Barbara Sharp welcomed the guests and offered some history. The Suffragist movement, launched in 1848 by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, struggled for decades. Activists were ridiculed, beaten and jailed. Many did not live to see their dream fulfilled. We stand on the shoulders of these brave women. In Washington, the territorial legislature gave women the right to vote, only to have it revoked after statehood, re-extended and reversed by technicalities. Finally, in 1910, the Washington Constitution was amended to include women’s right to vote and on August 18, 1920 the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution extended the right nationwide. With millions of new voters, the League was founded to educate these women about the voting process and the issues and candidates they would vote on.
Vice President Necia Quast noted that today the League, no longer just women, encompasses two organizations. The LWV Education Fund’s educates all voters on the issues and candidates in state, local and national elections. The larger LWV advocacy organization focuses on voting rights and fair election procedures. The national-level League funds efforts to protect and advance voter access, voter rights; to combat voter suppression, gerrymandering, and other efforts to game the will of the electorate. A wall display listed legal cases to which the League was party in 2019.
The evening was rounded out with cutting and serving the beautiful birthday cake made by Felicity, who catered the event. This was accompanied by a group sing along of Happy Birthday, God Bless, America and This Land is Your Land, led by Friday Harbor Mayor Farhad Ghatan. Guests could also get their picture taken with Susan B. Anthony and check out displays on national, state, and county history of women’s suffrage.