Annie Lamont Joins In State Celebration For 100th anniversary Of Women’s Suffrage
Hartford Courant, Sept. 13, 2019
By Christopher Keating
First Lady Annie Lamont, Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz, and Secretary of the State Denise Merrill announced a yearlong celebration in honor of the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage on Thursday.
As co-chairs of the Connecticut Women’s Suffrage Commission, they invited town leaders, state legislators and local historians to meet at the State Capitol to prepare for 2020.
“They took off their corsets, and picketed the White House, and went to jail,” Merrill said. “This was not a group of ladylike shrinking violets. ... I feel at home here in the chambers because I stand here on the shoulders of these women.”
The Seneca Falls Convention of 1848 launched a 72-year campaign for women’s voting rights. Before the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified in 1920, it was against the law for women to vote. Those who did, like Susan B. Anthony, were arrested and often jailed.
“We are in a state that values the contributions of women,” Bysiewicz said, noting that Connecticut elected the first female governor, Ella Grasso, in 1971. “Let me tell you that Governor Lamont respects and supports women in leadership. We are so proud to have a historic executive leadership team in place that includes 52% women and 40% people of color.”
She called the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment one of America’s greatest democratic accomplishments, but asked the public not to forget its prejudice. “While it afforded millions of white women access to the ballot box, African American women and women of color were not afforded those rights until decades later with the passage of the Civil Rights Act,” she said.
Bysiewicz also reminded Connecticut’s leaders that women’s access to equal pay, healthcare, and reproductive rights are nationally under attack.
“All women still struggle every day for the basic opportunities that we should enjoy as Americans, especially since we make up 51% of the population," she said. “Yet, we are not represented fully in the highest levels of our state and national government, fortune 500 companies, and in the non-profit world."
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“It is important to lead by example,” she said. “When you find yourself in the position where you can affect change, you have to take on the responsibility to do so."
“All of us are longtime advocates for the empowerment of women,” said Bysiewicz of her co-chairs. “One of the most influential ways we can accomplish this is by exercising our right to vote, and encouraging all women to do the same.”
Lamont, Merrill, and Bysiewicz presented the first Centennial Awards of the year to the League of Women Voters and the Hartford Chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority for promoting gender equality, democracy, and civil education for women.
“The suffragettes were never going to get the right to vote, unless they broke the doors down,” Lamont said. “Sometimes you need to make some noise."