In celebration of Women’s History Month, The Library of Hattiesburg teamed up with The League of Women Pine Belt Voters to host Journey to the 19th Amendment on Wednesday, March 13.
The event highlighted the importance of the 19th Amendment and how it changed history for women.
The amendment was added to the United States Constitution in 1920 which granted men and women equal voting rights. The amendment states that the right of citizens to vote “shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”
Associate Director of the Library of Hattiesburg Christina Keiphe, explained how the program began.
“During one of our Friends of The Library meetings, our discussion was focused on programs planning, and Women’s History Month came up,” Keipher said.”We get excited when there are opportunities to have a series of programs around a central relevant topic.”
The Library of Hattiesburg wanted this event to not only educate the public about the amendment but also to celebrate the upcoming 100th anniversary of it.
“Soon after that meeting, I received an email from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) offering to send us a pop-up exhibit titled, Rightfully Hers to help celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment. We said ‘Yas!’ I then began looking for programming that would highlight the 19th Amendment. This led me to the League of Women’s Voters and to our local chapter,” Keipher said.
President of The League of Women Pine Belt Voters Peg Ciraldo said she was thankful when the Library of Hattiesburg asked the League of Women to get involved.
“When the library requested we speak on this issue that is so relevant and important to our League we were honored to be part of the Library’s Women’s History Month,” Ciraldo said.
Ciraldo said she hopes programs such as these will help the public understand that women’s rights are human rights.
“We are hoping people will understand more fully the importance of ensuring that all citizens receive equal rights,” Ciraldo said. “The League of Women Voters strongly feels that events like this help educate and inspire women and men to help better our country.”
The Centennial Chair for the League of Women Voters Mississippi Patricia Cuza was selected to speak at the program. She focused on the aspect that racism still played a vital role in the path to gender equality during this time.
Adrienne Graham, a guest at the event, said she was upset when she learned about this aspect.
“What was very sad to learn that I did not know was that the early members of the women’s movement shunned women of color [African Americans] for fear of political fall out,” said Graham.
Keipher said people are learning to not take what they know about certain past events at face value.
“One factor Ms. Cuza stressed was that many people know the highlights of the 19th Amendment, but few know the history,” Keipher said. “Time only permitted a capsule full of history to be presented, but it was truly an eye-opener. It’s quite intriguing and begs for further study.”
The next discussion celebrating the library’s Women’s History Month programming is scheduled for Wednesday, March 20 at 6 p.m. For more information visit the Library of Hattiesburg, Petal and Forrest County Facebook page.