Women’s Equality Day 2021 will be celebrated on Saturday, August 28 from 11 AM to 2 PM at Sang Run Park. WED2021 “commemorates the passage of the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution, granting the right to vote to women.” Originally planned for 2020 to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of a woman’s right to vote, the event will feature a variety of events. WED2021 is part of a statewide movement to celebrate this important accomplishment and will be held simultaneously in various locations around Maryland.
On August 18, 1920, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, granting all women the right to vote, was ratified by the last needed state legislature. It marked the end of a long and hard-fought battle spanning generations. On August 26, 1920, the ratification was certified by official proclamation signed by then U.S. Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby behind closed doors at his home. In 1971, Congress designated August 26th as Women’s Equity Day, a symbol for women’s continued fight for equality.
WED2021 is a free, non-partisan, family-friendly event that will feature a variety of activities and educational experiences for young and old. This project is the culmination of a two-year planning process and is a joint endeavor between six of the county’s leading women’s groups along with the Maryland Park Service and Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Judy Carbone, President of AAUW-Garrett Branch, which is the lead coordinating sponsor of the event, says, “we hope that all participants will gain a greater appreciation for the 75-year fight that went into securing the woman’s suffrage and an understanding that the struggle for women’s equity is not yet over. Our event motto is Hard Won, Not Done!”
Another goal of the event is to stress the importance of women voting in every election, if for no other reason than in honor of the sacrifices made by the suffragists. To that end, participants will be able to register to vote if they are residents of the State of Maryland. Voter registration will be conducted by both the Garrett County Democratic Women and the Garrett County Republican Women’s Club.
Each participating organization will have a table at which information will be provided on the group’s goals, programs, and community outreach, and giving people an opportunity to learn about upcoming activities of the group and possibly even becoming a member. Each group will also have items and snacks and/or beverages for sale.
The Garrett County Republican Women’s Club will be celebrating the WED2021 with a theme reminiscent of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, during which the women’s suffrage movement in the United States was very important both culturally and politically. A festive mural stating ‘Women’s Suffrage 1920’ will be displayed for guests, including children, to color; and candy, in the tradition of general stores’ penny candy of that era, will be sold. The Club’s “American Chain” quilt, handmade by member Barbara Chesley, will be on display, for which raffle tickets can be purchased. All proceeds benefit the scholarship fund for their annual donation to Garrett County high school seniors.
They will stage some tableaux, which were popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and featured people in still poses depicting works of art or historical scenes. Guests of all ages may participate in the tableaux, which will depict important events surrounding the passage of the 19th Amendment. Props, including hats of the time period, women’s suffrage sashes, and “Votes for Women” signs will be provided for use; participants will strike poses from authentic photographs of historic events. This will be a perfect time to take photos of friends in a step back in time to join in the suffrage movement.
In addition, their table will provide information on our group’s goals, programs, and community outreach, and give people an opportunity to join the Garrett County Republican Women’s Club.
The Garrett County Democratic Women, which works to connect Democratic women with one another locally and complete community service work, are planning to sell chips and fresh blueberries as well as vinyl decals with the WED2021 logo. They will also have face painting for the children by local Garrett Countian, Makayla Mauli. The GC Democratic Women will be encouraging everyone who is eligible to vote but not yet registered to get registered and directing interested parties to the Election House where voter registration will take place. “To quote Congressman David Trone,” says Charlene Pullias, President of the GC Democratic Club, “NOW is NOT the time to sit on the sidelines!”
The local chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Resolution (NSDAR) will also be on hand. The Youghiogheny Glades Chapter, established in 1967 is one of more than 3000 local Chapters located in several Countries. Most of the members of the Chapter live in Garrett and Preston Counties, and all members have a direct lineage back to a Recognized Revolutionary War Patriot.
NASDR is dedicated to volunteer service concentrated in three areas: Patriotism, Education and Historic Preservation. They have programs in each of these areas that recognize and honor the men and women that have fought for our rights throughout our history. In addition to the recognized male Patriots, there are also Women Patriots recognized by the NSDAR for their actions during the Revolutionary War.
NASDR Chapters have activities and educational displays specifically to commemorate the Suffrage movement. Their National Magazine AMERICAN SPIRIT frequently has articles recognizing past and present Women for their contributions throughout our history.
During the WED2021 event, they plan to have literature about their organization, how to join, how to research lineage, Patriot names of our Chapter members answer questions and a selfie option. They will be selling cold drinks including water, soft drinks and lemonades.
The Civic Club of Oakland is sponsoring a bake sale, to feature individually wrapped homemade packages of cookies, brownies, cupcakes, etc. They will also be offering a gluten free, dairy free option. In addition, they will be selling their Then and Now Cookbook, a compilation of recipes from a cookbook published by the women of the Civic Club in 1914 paired with their modern day equivalents. One included recipe, for white grape salad, is from Dr. Lorilla Tower, a well-known Maryland suffragist and president of the Club when the cookbook was published in 1914.
Their booth will feature a Votes for Women jigsaw puzzle. They invite those attending the event to stop by and add a piece or two. The 500-piece puzzle features the visages of 43 women – and one man, Frederick Douglass – who were important in the long fight to grant women the right to vote. Accompanying the puzzle will be a poster board explaining who each person is and their contributions to the Suffragist movement.
“In addition to Dr. Tower, other club members at the time were also active in the movement. So it makes perfect sense for the women of today’s Civic Club to participate in this event honoring the legacy of the women who fought so hard to give us the right to vote. We are proud to celebrate our past accomplishments while looking to the future to achieve more,” said Judith Merriman, current president.
The Garrett County Commission for Women (GCCW) will have a banner that says “Votes for Women” in which attendees can record what it means to them to have voting rights, or to simply be a woman. The banner can then be used by other groups to use at events throughout the county.
Appointed by the Board of Garrett County Commissioners, GCCW Commissioners are tasked with promoting a positive image of women, advise county government, advance solutions, and serve as a countywide resource to promote social, political, and economic equality for women.
The American Association of University Women is the country’s oldest women’s equity organization and Garrett County has had a branch since 1946. They are the lead organizer of the event and will be presenting their long-awaited Women’s Monologues project, originally planned for March of last year. These monologues will focus on Maryland Suffragists with local residents portraying ten women and one man who helped shape Maryland women’s history, including several that hailed from or affected life in Garrett County.
The Monologues will focus on a broad timeline including Maryland’s first known suffragist — Margaret Brent who lived from 1601 – 1671. A property owner who demanded the right to vote, she was the first woman in the English North American colonies to appear before a court of the common law. She will be portrayed by local Kam Gillespie.
Although this was mainly a woman’s battle, many men took up the cause as well, none more famous than Maryland’s own Frederick Douglass. Portrayed by Jonathan Anderson, Douglass was one of the men present at the pioneer woman’s rights convention held at Seneca Falls, New York, in July 1848, and signed the “Declaration of Sentiments”, which was one of the first major proclamations demanding women’s equity.
The first known Garrett County suffragette was Catharine Sweet, who was born c. 1850. Sweet, from Loch Lynn Heights, tried to vote in the town’s first municipal elections but was denied, making her a life-long suffragist. Had she succeeded, Sweet would have been first Maryland woman to vote in a municipal election. Her angry first-hand story was published in the Baltimore Sun. Sweet will be portrayed by Liz Williams.
Edith Houghton Hooker (1879 – 1948) was known as “The Militant Suffragist”. Portrayed by Linda Herdering, Hooker was the first woman accepted into Johns Hopkins University Medical School. She was the founder of the Just Government League, the largest Suffragist organization in Maryland and the group that organized the Garrett County Suffrage Pilgrimage (a march to enlist others in the fight for the right to vote). She was also the maternal aunt of actress Katherine Hepburn.
Edna S. Latimer (1878 – 1917), born in Baltimore, was the Garrett County Suffrage Pilgrimage “General”. She was also the organizer for the National Women’s Party, the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage, and the Just Government League. She spearheaded the 125-mile, 2-day march through Garrett County in which over 800 new members in the Just Government League were registered and over 6,600 pamphlets were distributed. Latimer will be portrayed by Judy Carbone.
Another featured “speaker” will be Francis Ellen Watkins Harper (1825 – 1911), also born in Baltimore and known as “The Novel Abolitionist”. Portrayed by Phyllis Anderson, Harper was a well-known author, poet, speaker, abolitionist and women’s right advocate. She lectured and organized Black women into Temperance Unions and was an organizer of the National Association of Colored Women and became its vice president.
Dr. Lorilla F. Bullard Tower (1870 – 1963) was the only female Physician in Garrett County listed in the 1922 Maryland listing of physicians. She and her husband lived in one of the big mansions along Oak Street in Oakland, MD. Tower also collaborated with Madeleine Engle, founder of the Maryland League of Women Voters, which was created as a national organization after the disbanding of several of the more influential suffragist organizations once the vote was secured. Tower will be portrayed by Betty Pritt.
Of course, the most well-known name in county history is its namesake, John Garrett, president of the B&O Railroad. His only daughter, Mary Elizabeth (1854-1915) was a staunch American suffragist and philanthropist. Well-known for her “coercive philanthropy”, Mary Elizabeth donated money to start the Johns Hopkins University Medical School in 1893 on the condition that the school would accept female students “on the same terms as men”. In her later years, she collaborated with her longtime friends, Susan B. Anthony and Anna Howard Shaw, to try and secure the right for women to vote in the United States.
While Mary Elizabeth Garrett was a staunch suffragist, her sister-in-law, Mary Frick Garrett was staunchly against it (known as an “anti”). There were three reasons Anti’s had for being against suffrage…harming the family-centered culture, using religion as a reason, and giving parity to black women (the 15th Amendment only gave black men the right to vote).
Sue Lisanti (portraying Mary Elizabeth) and Lori Youse (as Mary Frick) will share an imagined debate between the two formidable women.
One of the most horrific events of the suffrage movement (and one that eventually turned the tide of popular opinion in favor of the women’s right to vote) was “The Night of Terror”. Julia Emory of Baltimore (1885 – 1979) was a victim of that fateful night along with her colleague Lucy Burns. On the night of November 14, 1917, 33 women were arrested and joined others in Occoquan, all claiming to be political prisoners. These women were clubbed, beaten and tortured, and after a Hunger Strike was called, many were force fed and held with their hands above their heads.
In early 1918, a D.C. Court of Appeals held that the women had been illegally arrested and mistreated, and it helped galvanize support of the suffrage movement. Kim Alexander will portray Julia Emory who later became an organizer of the National Woman’s Party.
The final performer of the day will be Mary Sincell McEwen, portraying her great grandmother Lillian “Tay” Byrne Morris Sincell (1871-1961), a local Garrett County Suffragist. Sincell believed that women were the backbone of civilization and more concerned with the welfare of the community and nation. She was the Hospitality Chairwoman for the Just Government League in Oakland, MD, at the time of the Garrett County Suffrage Pilgrimage and eventually the third woman in Garrett County to exercise her right to register to vote; her mother was the second woman.
Another event highlight will be a group of park service employees who will march from Friendsville to Sang Run to re-create the Garrett County Suffrage Pilgrimage which originally took place in June of 1914. They will enter the event when they reach Sang Run State Park and be hailed by the participants.
For an opening ceremony, attendees are invited to join the AAUW Monologuers and other event participants, some in costume and some not, at the Pavilion at Sang Run for a smaller recreation of the march. Participants in this opening ceremony will march past the recently restored 1872 Sang Run Election House. A dedication ceremony will take place later that day, honoring the restoration of the Election House and the first public opening of the structure since the renovation. The dedication will be conducted by Maryland Park Service staff, and local elected officials will be present for an award presentation. Interpretive tours of the structure will be available during the event..
For more information and a full schedule, visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/events/462827897678575.