As the November election approaches, gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman is attracting national attention for her fierce (and historically pricey) race against state Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown. But a few generations ago Whitman wouldn't have even been allowed to vote, much less seek public office.
The women of the La Cañada Flintridge Thursday Club don't take their voting rights for granted. This month, club members will lead a celebration of the 90th anniversary of the adoption of the 19th Amendment, which prohibits the federal government from the denying the right to vote based on a citizen's gender.
The marquee event will take place on Sunday, Oct. 24 at 2 p.m. at the clubhouse at 4440 Woodleigh Lane and will focus on the 72-year battle waged by America's suffragettes. Thursday Club member Barbara Robison will give a presentation on her ancestor, Carrie Chapman Catt, who headed the international suffrage movement at the time the 19th Amendment was passed. Catt went on to found the League of Women Voters.
Robison, who is currently working on a book about Catt, said the women's-rights pioneer recognized that there was strength in numbers.
"She felt that it would take grass-roots planning," Robison said. "She called her plan the winning plan, and apparently it worked."
Honored guests will include Helen Rudd Brown, the granddaughter of William Jennings Bryan and daughter of Ruth Bryan Owen, Florida's first congressional representative, as well as Margaret "Peggy" York, the Los Angeles Police Department's first female deputy chief and the wife of Judge Lance Ito.
The program will be followed by a screening of "Iron Jawed Angels" on Thursday, Oct. 28 at 6:30 p.m. at the clubhouse. The film tells the story of the suffrage movement.
Both events are free and open to the public.
The timing of the celebration conveniently coincides with the upcoming election, said club publicity chairwoman Karen Poindexter. Club members hope the events remind women not to take lightly the rights guaranteed by 19th Amendment, she said, and also hope that it motivates them to head to the polls on Nov. 2.
"Fewer and fewer people go to the polls, fewer people exercise that right and we are hoping by telling the story of what women had to go through [to earn the right to vote], it will encourage women to exercise the vote," Poindexter said.