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CEDAR FALLS -- Iowa will commemorate ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution with a series of events and projects in 2020. Former state legislator Doris Kelley of Cedar Falls, representing the League of Women Voters of Iowa, is chairing Iowa’s 19th Amendment Centennial Commemoration Committee.
A statewide effort to raise $400,000 for the commemoration has now been launched. Activities have been in the planning stage since 2017, Kelley said.
The official kick-off is Feb. 14 on the Iowa State University campus in Ames. The time, location and program will be announced at a later date. The public may attend.
The 19th Amendment was ratified in August 1920, giving women the right to vote. Iowa voted on July 2, 1919, to ratify the amendment, making it the 10th state to pass the legislation.
“Hard Won. Not Done.” is the state theme, said Kelley. Activities and events “will tell the historic and still very relevant story from the Iowa perspective,” including the role Iowa women like American suffrage leader Carrie Chapman Catt and others played in the suffrage movement. Catt spent her childhood in Charles City.
“I’m shocked by the number of women who have no idea what the 19th Amendment is, what it means. We have 26 projects and activities planned across the state to educate the public on this achievement. That’s the ‘hard won’ part,” Kelley explained.
Her focus, too, is on the "not done" part. "Women have to get involved and stand up and push. We need to pay attention to what’s happening around the country.”
Kelley raised $32,000 in funds to hire a marketing firm to develop the theme, logo and campaign statement. “The next step is to raise $400,000 to educate the public and promote the ideals and accomplishments embodied in the anniversary of the 19th Amendment,” she said, as well as develop curriculum for public and private high school social studies teachers.
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Funds also will be used to build a replica of the 19th Amendment Suffrage Wagon used by Lucy Stone from 1914-1920 for rallies and speaking engagements. The original is housed at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. The replica will be available for city, county and Iowa State Fair parades and for display at libraries and museums in the state.
Nancy Hill Cobb, a University of Northern Iowa music professor, is composing music for a new musical, “The Suffragists,” with book and lyrics by Cedar Rapids playwright Cavan Hallman. The musical chronicles the final push for women’s suffrage by Alice Paul, Carrie Chapman Catt, Lucy Burns, Anna Howard Shaw and others. The premiere is planned for June 5, 6 and 7 at the Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center in Cedar Falls.
Kelley said the committee will partner with the UNI Foundation to host a national speaker for the Joy Corning Distinguished Leadership Lecture Series at the GBPAC in fall 2020.
Other projects include art and history museum exhibits, public and school library book fairs, a 19th Amendment speaking series hosted by history and political science teachers, a National History Day essay contest for middle and high school students, a poster designed by former Des Moines Register editorial cartoonist Brian Duffy, an illustrated calendar, podcasts, merchandise, city street banners, a book and various proclamations. Iowa Public Television is producing a documentary about Carrie Chapman Catt for release in 2020.
The centennial celebration ends Oct. 9, 2020, during the Iowa Women’s Foundation’s 24th annual luncheon at the Coralville Marriott and Convention Center.
For the complete and updated list, go to http://19th-amendment-centennial.org. More events and projects will be added on an ongoing basis.
In addition to the LWV and 11 Iowa chapters, supporting agencies and institution partners are: 50-50 in 2020, American Association of University Women of Iowa; Business Professional Women of Iowa; Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics at Iowa State University; Department of Human Rights/Iowa Commission on the Status of Women; and the Iowa State Education Association. Also, Iowa State University; Iowa Women's Foundation; National Nineteenth Amendment Society (Charles City headquarters); NEXUS Executive Women's Alliance; University of Iowa; University of Northern Iowa; and Women Lead Change.
Service clubs and civic groups interested in a speaker, or anyone seeking more information events, materials or volunteering, can contact Kelley at (515) 988-2344, or DJKelley@cfu.net.