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The ‘mighty political experiment’ turns 100

By Staff | Feb 6, 2020

The League of Women Voters marks a landmark anniversary this year: The organization founded from a decades-long effort to give women the right to vote turns 100.

Now a nationwide education and advocacy group with more than 700 local and state chapters, its efforts urging active involvement in government include not only voter awareness and registration, but a myriad of interlinked social issues.

Agree with its current national or local advocacy and action plans or not, agree with individual officer’s or member’s issues of choice or reject them, the League’s non-partisan efforts on behalf of women and other disenfranchised voters since the passage and ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1919 and 1920 respectively is not to be denied.

The League’s website, lwv.org , marches though its decades of accomplishments. According to lwv.org:

— Forming six months before the 19th Amendment was ratified on Aug. 18, 1920, the fledgling League of Women’s Voters not only immediately organized its first “Get Out and Vote” campaign, it launched the effort to grant women independent U.S. citizenship apart from that granted their husbands.

— The League was a major sponsor of the first televised presidential debate in 1952, a role it held on and off for years.

Meanwhile it did not stand idly by during that era’s assault on democracy, remaining an outspoken advocate of individual rights through the heat of what has come to be condemned as McCarthyism.

— The League strongly supported the Civil Rights movement and the Equal Rights Amendment through the ’60s and ’70s respectively.

Subsequent efforts have continued to focus on voters rights and the League’s foundation commitment to diversity, equality and inclusion – “so that everyone has a seat at our table in making America a more perfect democracy.”

A “mighty political experiment,” indeed.

At the local level, the Lee County chapter got a jump on the 100th anniversary events this past weekend with a celebration at Shell Point.

Patricia Brigham, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida, was to be the featured speaker.

“We are celebrating the fact that the League of Women Voters is 100 years old as of Feb. 14. The purpose of the league was to make sure, now that we have the right to vote, we should be educated about the issues and study the issues and be able to advocate for public policy,” League of Women Voters Lee County President Clara Ann Graham told the Breeze Newspapers last week.

Also in the queue this year are some Lee chapter election-related standards and some events special to the centennial anniversary.

Get ready for a new round of League-hosted candidate forums throughout Lee County and expect a celebratory event on Aug. 28 to mark the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment.

We thank the League of Women Voters and the individuals current and past for their efforts.

The League, though its efforts, has done what few can boast: It has established a legacy built on the premise that the voice of the people — all of the people — empowers us all.

-Neighbor editorial