The Roanoker - March/April 2020 - 39

"Remember the ladies,"
Abigail Adams told John Adams in a
letter written on March 31, 1776, as he
and other delegates drafted the founding
principles for our nation.
"Do not put such unlimited power into the
hands of the husbands," she continues in the
letter."Remember, all men would be tyrants
if they could. If particular care and attention
is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to
foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves
bound by any laws in which we have no voice
or representation."
His response? "As to your extraordinary
Code of Laws, I cannot but laugh ... Depend
upon it, We know better than to repeal our
Masculine system."
(He also called her "saucy," but we won't
get into that just now.)
The next century continued to deny
women political power, but that wouldn't
stop them. They continued their path as
suffragists, abolitionists, public speakers
and activists. A national movement began
in Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848, while
Senator Aaron Sarfent became the first
member of Congress to formally propose
a constitutional amendment to extend
voting rights to women in 1878.
Four decades and several failed
attempts later, the Senate approved an
amendment for woman suffrage on June
4, 1919; ratified on August 18, 1920, the
19th amendment granted women the
right to vote after decades of protest and
struggle. The amendment was only 39

words - two sentences to represent the
work of generations of activists:
"The right of citizens of the United States
to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the
United States or by any State on account of
sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this
article by appropriate legislation."
One hundred years later, we celebrate
the momentous and hard-earned win
with another major victory: in January
2020, Virginia became the 38th and final
state needed to ratify the Equal Rights
Amendment.
There are several groups, both nationand statewide, that will honor the
anniversary in 2020.
The Roanoke Women's March will
celebrate this accomplishment, as well
as commemorate International Women's
Day, on March 7. In addition to marching
through downtown Roanoke, they also
register voters and showcase exhibitors
who share their experiences about
community organizing.
The event, now in its fourth year, hosts
between 3,000 to 4,000 people, and
includes people who spend hours making
creative signs, musical acts, stiltwalkers
and more.
Described as "an energizing experience,"
the march focuses on celebrating the
considerable achievements of women who
channel their energy into new passions
for civic life and politics in Roanoke,
Richmond and Washington, D.C.

"[The centennial] means everything
to us," says Ivonne Wallace Fuentes, a
Roanoke Women's March board member
and organizer. "The struggle to get the
ERA ratified ... has made us all aware
that we are part of a historical process ...
to ensure that our own granddaughters
live in a future where discrimination on
the basis of sex is something they only
learn about in history books and not have
to experience themselves. It is important
for everyone to join us in this because it
can energize us all to become more aware
of our power as constituents, voters and
citizens."
You can learn more about the Roanoke
Women's March, inc luding their
mission, route, schedule and volunteer
opportunities, at womensmarchroanoke.
com.
The centennial celebration continues
throughout the state in 2020. Head to the
Virginia Museum of History & Culture in
Richmond, where you'll see their exhibit,
"Agents of Change: Female Activism in
Virginia from Women's Suffrage to Today."
Organized with the statewide Women's
Suffrage Centennial, the exhibit features
artifacts celebrating women's social and
political activism in the Commonwealth
(runs March 7 to September 27).
To learn more about the Women's Vote
Centennial, including state-wide and
national news, events and initiatives, visit
womensvote100.org. I

Virginia Events from Women's Vote Centennial:
FACING PAGE: COURTESY OF THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

March 7-September 27, 2020: "Agents of Change: Female Activism in Virginia from
Women's Suffrage to Today," an exhibit focused on women's social and political
activism throughout the history of Virginia at the Virginia Museum of History and
Culture in Richmond.
March 1-August 17, 2020: "100 Years of Women's Suffrage in Lynchburg," an exhibit
telling the little-known stories of Lynchburg suffragists and featuring two traveling
exhibits: "Agents of Change: Female Activism in Virginia from Women's Suffrage to
Today" from the Virginia Museum of History & Culture and "We Demand: Women's
Suffrage in Virginia" from the Library of Virginia.

TheRoanoker.com

MARCH/APRIL 2020 39


http://www.womensvote100.org http://www.TheRoanoker.com

The Roanoker - March/April 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Roanoker - March/April 2020

The Roanoker - March/April 2020 - Intro
The Roanoker - March/April 2020 - Cover1
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