As the character Liz Lemon from “30 Rock” said, “You know what I like to celebrate on February 14th? The 1920 founding of the League of Women’s Voters.”
February 14 is not just a day to celebrate love. It’s also the anniversary of the founding of the League of Women Voters. This year is the 98th anniversary of the League’s founding meaning we, as a nation, are almost to a full century of fighting for and promoting women’s equality in politics in the USA.
The League of Women Voters (LWV) was founded by suffragist Carrie Chapman Catt, who became the director of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) after Susan B. Anthony left the position. In 1920, Catt founded the LWV in Chicago during the convention of the National American Woman Suffrage Association.
The convention was six months before the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which finally gave women the right to vote across the United States. As soon as 1924, only four years after its founding, there were National Leagues organized across the country in 346 out of 433 congressional districts.
Some notable moments in the history of the League of Women Voters is in 1945 the LWV was invited by President Harry Truman to serve as a consultant to the United States delegation at the United Nations Charter Conference. Even today, they have continued their presence at the United National.
1969 saw the LWV being one of the first organizations that called for the United States to normalize relations with China. In 1976, it was the LWV who sponsored the first televised presidential debates since 1960. In 1993 President Bill Clinton said that the League and other pivotal supporters of the National Voter Registration Act as “fighters for freedom” due to their continued and constant efforts to expand and promote equality for all Americans in democracy.
As recent as October of 2017 the League filed an impartial and voluntary brief in the case Gill v. Whitford, a United States Supreme Court case involving the constitutionality of partisan gerrymandering, arguing that partisan gerrymandering does violate the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution.
Be sure to take the opportunity this Valentines Day to not only celebrate love but to also celebrate the women of America in both the past and present who have worked towards furthering equality for everyone across the country that is proud to call itself the land of the free.
Carlee Jo Blumenthal
Photo Courtesy of The Oakland Museum of California