League of Women Voters celebrates centennial of 19th Amendment

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DECATUR, Ala. – The League of Women Voters and the 19th Amendment share a birthday, and in 2020, they both turned 100.

“To show the struggle that women had to gain the vote and the struggle that goes on still today for voting rights for everyone,” said Sari Oosta from the League of Women Voters of the Tennessee Valley. 

To celebrate, for the next year, the group is putting displays of the women suffrage in libraries throughout five counties in the Tennessee Valley: Jackson, Marshall, Morgan, Madison, and Limestone.

“We want people to see how long the struggle took, what the struggle was, and understand what these women went through,” said Oosta.

So what is suffrage?

“It’s the right to vote, the right to express your opinion in a democratic society,” said Oosta. “When women did get the right to vote in 1920 when the 19th Amendment passed, that was the right they received.”

The 19th Amendment was adopted into the United States Constitution in the 1920s, but Alabama didn’t ratify it until the 1950s.

Decatur has ties to the national women’s suffrage movement.

“Ellen Hildreth, who was the main suffragist here in Decatur and was corresponding with Carrie Chapman Catt and Susan B. Anthony. It was interesting to see all these ladies who had been getting into the suffrage movement,” said John Allison from the Morgan County Archives.

After corresponding with Hildreth, the activists came to Decatur to speak about the suffrage, re-igniting the movement in the area.

The Morgan County Archives has artifacts that show poll lists of the first women voters, original ballot boxes, and letters.

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