Editor’s Note: Women in the United States were granted the right to vote on August 26, 1920, when the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was certified as law. In 1971 at the urging of Rep. Bella Abzug (D-NY), in 1971 the U.S. Congress designated August 26 as “Women’s Equality Day,”calling attention to women’s continuing efforts toward full equality.
By Ashley Gardner
“Kate Sessions” herself, the Mother of Balboa Park, will be on hand to speak and to greet at the Annual San Diego Suffrage Rally and Parade coming up on August 26 in Balboa Park. Thus, San Diego will kick-off the 8th annual women’s rights event starting at 5pm. The crowd will gather, appropriately enough, at the Kate Sessions Statue on the 6th Avenue side of the Laurel Street Bridge to hear a 30 minute rally prior to marching en masse across the Laurel Street Bridge.
The parade will be lead by enthusiastic women’s rights activist, Judy Forman, owner of the Big Kitchen. Marchers will be dressed in 1900s suffragist outfits along with those fabulous 1900s hats, outrageous enough to make any dame at Del Mar jealous. All San Diegans and visitors are invited. Many local women’s organizations and activists will participate. The event is produced by the Women’s Museum of California.
Leading off the rally are Representatives Susan Davis and Scott Peters (with Janine Davis standing in for the Honorable Scott Peters), followed by a welcome from “Kate Sessions” (Cath DeStefano). All rally attendees will enjoy hearing the stories of the lives of such leading suffragists as: Elizabeth Cady Stanton (Judy Forman), Susan B. Anthony (Marti Kranzberg), Carrie Chapman Catt (Kay Ragan), Dr. Charlotte Baker (Ashley Gardner), Ellen Browning Scripps (Christina Marzocca), and Virginia Gildersleeve (Eunis Christensen). Anne Hoiberg serves as the emcee.
Starting at 5pm at the Kate Sessions Statue on the 6th Avenue side of the Laurel Street Bridge, dozens of women’s organizations and supporters from around the county will gather for a rousing presentation of speeches and music focused on the theme of “Votes for Women = Equality for All.” Participants will be dressed in historic clothing, carrying banners, signs, and flags. Vintage cars from the era are invited to parade along with the marchers.
After Jeeni Criscenzo closes the rally with a poem at approximately 5:50 pm, present-day suffragists and friends will march across the Laurel Street Bridge into the Organ Pavilion prior to the last Twilight Concert of the year; the concert begins promptly at 6:15. The group will move to the grass by the Hall of Nations to listen to the concert while enjoying an old-fashioned picnic and ice cream social.
The Suffrage Fight in California
It was one hundred and three years ago on October 10th that California became the sixth and largest state in the union to grant women the right to vote. Even though the city of San Diego was only 64 years old, local politics played a role in the success of passing the Voter’s Rights Amendment (State Proposition 4) in 1911.
It was Clara Foltz, (pictured here) the first woman lawyer on the west coast, who, despite being banned from Law School because she was a woman, wrote the California Voter’s Rights Amendment, which passed in 1911.
“Flamboyant parades and rallies, electric street signs, door-to-door canvassing, street speeches, plays, pageants and press coverage reached every voter in the state from San Diego to Sacramento” states the press articles of the day. “A new sort of machine politics intrigued men as San Diego suffragists took to automobile touring to bring their message throughout the county”.
The Women’s Museum of California, San Diego hopes to recreate a touch of that pageantry and history at the parade in Balboa Park to coincide with Women’s Equality Day.
The Parade is Free! More info can be found at www.womensmuseumca.org or by calling 619 233-7963. Questions? Anne Hoiberg at email@example.com or 858.245.1677.
Ashley Gardner works with The Women’s Museum of California, San Diego