Temple celebrates the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment

Panelists spoke about the history and evolution of the women’s suffrage movement.

(Left) Journalism professor Carolyn Kitch, author Dorothy Patton and journalism professor Karen Turner, take questions from the audience during the 19th Amendment Panel at the Charles Library on March 12. | DANIEL KRANTMAN / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Temple Libraries and the Faculty Senate Committee on the Status of Faculty of Color collaborated to host “The 19th Amendment – Women in Politics,” a panel celebrating the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment which allowed women to vote on Thursday, March 12.  The event was part of the “Chat in the Stacks” series and was attended by approximately 20 people.

“Chat in the Stacks,” a collaboration series between Temple Libraries and the Faculty Senate Committee on the Status of Color, has featured research on topics particularly concerning faculty, students of color and women for the last 12 years, said  Karen Turner, a journalism professor who is also a member of the committee. 

The event was organized by Turner, who also moderated the panel, and Kimmika Williams-Witherspoon, an associate professor of theater, film and media arts and the committee’s co-chair.

The panel, led by journalism professor Carolyn Kitch and Attorney-Adviser at the U.S. Department of State Dorothy Patton, focused on the history and evolution of the United State’s women’s suffrage movement. 

This panel was held four days after the 2020 International Women’s Day celebration.  Additionally, 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment which was ratified on August 18, 1920. 

“With the suffrage centennial and all of the events going on, this moment gives an opportunity to see women’s suffrage as something that is still the same movement,” Kitch said. 

Each panelist talked about the history of women’s suffrage and their writings about it. Kitch talked about the book she co-edited, “Front Pages Front Lines: Media and the Fight for Women’s Suffrage,” which was published in March.

Kitch said the goal of the book is to highlight the impact and use of the press in the suffrage movement, as well as the intent of her chapter in examining how the suffrage movement is remembered. The book was co-authored by 13 women professors of journalism, history, African American studies and women’s studies, Kitch said. 

“Women journalists were not written about as much,” Kitch said. “It’s a really interesting illustration of factors that can help or hurt a social movement.”

 Kitch said one of the things she hoped to address in the chapter she wrote for “Front Pages Front Lines” is how people see the suffrage movement as being led by old, white women who aimed to just win the right to vote. 

“The vote wasn’t the main focus of the movement,” Kitch said. “Suffragists were working for financial and legal rights, property rights, divorce and domestic abuse.”

Kitch said that she hopes her chapter on the memory of suffrage shows the racial diversity that existed in the women’s suffrage movement with African American and Asian American suffragists joining the struggle for equality.

“It’s important when we have conversations about women that we don’t just talk about white women. That it is a community of women, which would be all women,” said Turner, who is also the director of the Temple Academic Center on Research in Diversity.

Patton’s book “From Suffragists to Senators: A Century of Laws by Women Since 1920” examines the impact of women on politics, both through their votes and legislative work. The book was released on June 19, 2019, according to its synopsis on Amazon. 

Patton listed the accomplishments of women in 20th-century politics and urged her readers to get involved and continue the “faith that suffragists had in our democracy and the power of the vote.” 

“I am thrilled to be with students today because you are the future of democracy,” Patton said. 

After the individual presentations, Turner asked the panelists questions concerning topics like race representation, the Equal Rights Amendment and women’s leadership roles in countries outside the U.S.

“This is not an event you’re going to see a lot around Temple,” said Kirtney Metz, a freshman communications major. “We tend to lump things together into ‘women’s history.’”

The event was the last “Chat in the Stacks” of the spring semester due to Temple University’s recent decision to suspend non-essential meetings on campus in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Witherspoon said the series will pick back up in Fall 2020. 

All the Charles Library “Beyond the Page” events are recorded and archived on the library website, said John Pyle, a technology support specialist at Charles Library.

“This is a celebration of the anniversary of the 19th amendment,” Witherspoon said. “It’s important we talk about women’s history of resistance in this country and in this political moment when the women’s vote will be very important.”

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