FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 1, 2021
Contact: Fredie Kay
** PRESS RELEASE **
Massachusetts Women’s Legislative Caucus Chairs Rep. Haddad and Sen. Lovely, advocates commemorate Women’s Equality Day at Suffrage100MA event themed “Voting Access: The Work Continues” at the Boston Public Garden near the Swan Boats
MassDOT lights Zakim, Longfellow, Fore River and Burns Bridges purple to mark occasion
BOSTON — Massachusetts Women’s Legislative Caucus Co-Chairs Rep. Pat Haddad and Sen. Joan Lovely joined leaders from the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts, the City of Boston’s office of Women’s Advancement, the Massachusetts Voter Table, and members of the community at an event — Voting Access: The Work Continues — hosted by Suffrage100MA to commemorate Women’s Equality Day on Thursday, August 26 at the Boston Public Gardens.
August 26, 1920 is the day the 19th Amendment was added to the U.S. Constitution after 72+ years of battle to enfranchise women. Unfortunately, other laws prevented African Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans, and others from voting until as late as 1965 and today efforts to restrict voting access are unfortunately gaining traction in Massachusetts and across the country.
During the event, Women’s Legislative Caucus co-chairs Rep. Haddad and Sen. Lovely discussed the importance of reducing barriers to civic participation and the need to increase the number of elected women.
“I’m here today to make sure we ask the question, ‘Are we working hard enough?’ We’ve talked over and over again about how hard the suffragists worked, but are we working hard enough to make sure we continue their legacy? We have people trying to stop mail-in voting and stop same day registration. There are people who are still pushing back on making voting easy and still pushing back on women’s rights. So we have to suffer as much as our sisters during the early 1900s – we have to make sure that we are always there when it’s about voting, when it’s about raising women up, and when it’s about talking to our sons about how important their support and our belief in us is. We have a lot of work to do,” said Massachusetts Caucus of Women Legislators Co-Chair Rep. Pat Haddad.
“We are up to 62 women in the Legislature now – it is a record. But I will tell you, over the hundreds of years of the Massachusetts Legislature, there have been over 20,000 men and 219 women. We need to grow these ranks and that’s what we are focusing on, which is why it’s so appropriate to be here today to talk about votes for women, said Massachusetts Caucus of Women Legislators Co-Chair Sen. Joan Lovely. “Let me tell you what the Caucus is working on this session. We’re working on COVID-19’s disparate impact on women. We’re working on health access and racial disparities. We’re working on postpartum depression – maternal mental health is actually the number one complication in pregnancy, and it affects men as well. And our third strategic priority is empowering women in government, and that’s why we are here today.”
“Rep. Haddad, Sen. Lovely and our other distinguished speakers are tireless champions for women and voting rights, and we are honored that they are joining us to commemorate Women’s Equality Day and pay tribute to the legacy of three suffragists, whose voices were critical in passing the 19th Amendment,” said Suffrage100MA Founder and President Fredie Kay, Esq., who opened the event.
Suffrage100MA Vice President Randolph Town Councilor Katrina Huff-Lamond emceed the event and delivered closing remarks.
“Our annual tradition of commemorating Women’s Equality Day at the Swan Boats started in 2011 to keep the light of the suffragists alive and use it to look ahead – because voting rights are human rights,” said Randolph Town Councilor Katrina Huff-Lamond. “We’re thrilled to be with our partners on Women’s Equality Day to support expanding voting rights because voter participation is essential to creating authentic representation. When mothers and others feel as if they are represented or that voting makes a difference, more people will vote, more people will run for office, and the guiding light of the suffragists will shine even brighter.”
Leaders from City of Boston Women’s Advancement and the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts introduced and unveiled three Suffrage Display Panels created by the Commonwealth Museum in partnership with Suffrage100MA.
“We are excited to commemorate and continue the legacy of women at the ballot box. Milestones like the passing of the 19th Amendment give us the inspiration to create more opportunities for voter access across the country,” said City of Boston Women’s Advancement Executive Director Alexandra Valdez of Hyde Park.
The three suffragists honored with suffrage panels and unveiled at the event were Ida B. Wells, Carrie Chapman Catt and Boston-born Radcliffe College alumnae Maud Wood Park.
“At the national level and here in Massachusetts, the League of Women Voters are committed to diversity, equity and inclusion as we move into the second century of our work. We are committed to making our membership reflect all the communities across the Commonwealth. Like getting the19th amendment passed, we as a League want to be as proactive and dedicated as the suffragists in making sure we have a diverse, equitable and inclusive League,” said League of Women Voters of MA President Elizabeth Foster-Nolan of Weymouth, MA.
Ayanna Polk of Dorchester joined Valdez to unveil the Ida B. Wells panel and Nancy Beeuwkes and Cindy Nock, both of Concord, MA joined Foster-Nolan to unveil the Carrie Chapman Catt and Maud Wood Park panels.
Following the unveilings, Massachusetts Voter Table Director Beth Huang highlighted opportunities to expand voting access at the state and federal level.
“As we look toward the next 100 years, there is so much we can do, including passing the VOTES Act in Massachusetts, which would create same-day voter registration, and an on-ramp for jail-based voting for everyone in pretrial detention – who is innocent until proven guilty – to cast ballots in houses of correction. The Act will also ensure that mail-in voting, which over 40% of Massachusetts voters used in 2020, and early voting are here to stay. I hope everyone joins the VOTES Act Lobby Day at the State House on October 5 at 12 p.m.,” said Massachusetts Voter Table Director Beth Huang of Cambridge, MA.
During her opening remarks, Suffrage100MA Founder and President Fredie Kay, Esq. highlighted the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, recently adopted by the US House of Representatives, which is a critical piece of legislation that fills the gap left by the disastrous Shelby County U.S. Supreme Court decision and is an essential tool to fight racial discrimination in voting. The bill is now in the US Senate and Kay urged attendees to advocate for its passage.
Kay also quoted her friend and the author of the book Mr. President, How Long Must We Wait?, Tina Cassidy of WGBH, who said of the event: “Thanks for keeping the flame alive, or as Alice Paul would have said: ‘carry the banner always!’”
Thursday evening, MassDOT illuminated the Zakim, Longfellow, Fore River and Burns Bridges in purple in recognition of Women’s Equality Day.
Suffrage100MA is dedicated to commemorating the 100th anniversary of the adoption of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1920, prohibiting the federal and state governments from denying citizens the right to vote on the basis of sex.
Suffrage100MA presents events and activities that highlight the history of the women’s suffrage movement and women’s rights.
Suffrage100MA is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization that partners and collaborates with many organizations in Massachusetts and throughout the country that are also planning events to recognize this historic occasion.
Learn more at www.suffrage100ma.org