The Women’s Center at Shippensburg University celebrated the 19th Amendment over Zoom with a panel of speakers from both on- and off-campus organizations. Speakers paid tribute to those who fought for the right and the diversity among them. Many speakers addressed the importance of voting in the upcoming elections and encouraged attendees to register to vote.
Arielle Catron, SU Women’s Center director, welcomed more than 40 attendees and began the evening with a video on the history of the suffragist movement from NowThis.
Carton then welcomed Ashley Lewis, academic support director and associate dean of exploratory studies, as the first speaker of the evening.
Lewis spoke on the importance of women’s votes and things that can prevent women and others from voting.
“Voting is also evidence of your pulse,” Lewis said.
She said it indicates that a person is engaged in social and political activities. However, there are people and things that have and will try to stop individuals from voting, according to Lewis.
Lewis said some politicians attempt to discourage citizens through voter suppression. Gerrymandering, racist and sexist laws have tried to prohibit the vote of women, people of color and other minorities in America.
However, not all voting obstacles are so obvious.
Lewis referred to the belief some people have that their vote does not matter, as voter repression. People may be disillusioned by the opinions of others and repress their own vote.
Lewis ended her speech by describing the power that each vote holds.
“The failure to vote can signify a figurative death. The death of your agency, your individuality, your voice and stop to your social and political pulse,” Lewis said.
Following Lewis, Erin Kramer, One PA executive director, a multi-issue organization, spoke. One PA is a membership-based organization that does civic engagement and issue campaigning, according to Kramer. She focused on how this year was the 100th anniversary of the white woman’s right to vote and that it took women of color many years after to fully exercise their own right to vote.
One PA works to help individuals overcome forms of voter suppression that exist today, Kramer said. Many of One PA members are politically neglected while white individuals like herself “have their hand held” to come vote, Kramer said.
People must work collectively to disrupt the system that does not want everyone to participate, Kramer said.
Cassy Zaleski, a SU graduate student and intern at the Women’s Center, showed a PowerPoint presentation celebrating many suffragettes of color and their work to achieve the 19th Amendment. Many of the women in the presentation were the first women or the first women of color to accomplish the tasks, Zaleski said.
Kadia Kenner, director of campaigns for the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center; Moriah Hathaway, executive director of the Pennsylvania Commission for Women; and several others, including SU students and faculty, spoke about the importance of voting and their own experience at the polls and getting involved.
Officials closed the night with a video from NowThis in memory of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s work and legacy.
Information for SU members about voter registration can be found at ship.edu/life/resources/shipvotes/.