Winthrop University: Winthrop Shines a (Purple) Light on the Suffrage Movement
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Winthrop Shines a (Purple) Light on the Suffrage Movement

August 26, 2020

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The Aug. 26 date marks the moment the 19th Amendment became fully certified into the U.S. Constitution, effecting the single largest expansion of voting rights in the nation’s history.
  • The Louise Pettus Archives & Special Collections has created a virtual exhibit highlighting Winthrop’s role in the women’s suffrage movement and its offshoots.

ROCK HILL, SOUTH CAROLINA – Winthrop University will “Light It Up Purple” on Wednesday, Aug. 26, to celebrate 100 years of the 19th Amendment, which gave (white) women the right to vote. 

The lights illuminating the main entrance signage and the front of Byrnes Auditorium will feature purple gels through the end of August to remind the community of one of the longest reform movements in American history. It is important to note that the right only applied to white women at the time. 

The Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission (WSCC) has partnered with federal and state leaders in this nationwide initiative, which is following the historic suffrage slogan, “Forward through the Darkness, Forward into Light.” 

The Aug. 26 date marks the moment the 19th Amendment became fully certified into the U.S. Constitution, effecting the single largest expansion of voting rights in the nation’s history. 

“We are thrilled that Winthrop University is joining the South Carolina Women’s Leadership Network in this nationwide effort to recognize the importance of Aug. 26, the day Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby issued the proclamation declaring the 19th Amendment ratified and part of the U.S. Constitution, granting American (white) women the right to vote,” said Jennifer Leigh Disney, chair of the Department of Political Science and director of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program. The department and program are planning a Centennial of Women’s Suffrage Event Series for this fall. 

Smithsonian exhibit 

The first floor of the Ida Jane Dacus Library is featuring a poster exhibition, courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, called “Votes for Women: A Portrait of Persistence.” Learn about that exhibit here: https://www.sites.si.edu/s/topic/0TO1Q000000cZgKWAU/votes-for-women-a-portrait-of-persistence

Members of the public should call the library in advance to view the exhibit: 803/323-4501.

Can’t stop the march for justice 

The Louise Pettus Archives & Special Collections has created a virtual exhibit highlighting Winthrop’s role in the women’s suffrage movement and its offshoots. One of those related causes was equal pay for equal work. 

In 1915, 44 women department heads and professors at the university petitioned the Winthrop Board of Trustees for salary adjustments to match their pay to their male counterparts. Around that time, male department heads were making double the rate of female department heads. 

Four years later, they were still waiting for board action. 

In a July 1919 letter to D. B. Johnson, Winthrop’s founder and first president, Professor of Latin Nettie Wysor wrote, “A few selfish politicians may retard the march of justice, but they can’t stop it.” 

View the exhibit: https://libguides.library.winthrop.edu/archives/equalpayequalwork

Upcoming events 

“There are many ways we can celebrate this momentous occasion and the ongoing activism to secure voting rights for ALL Americans,” Disney added. “The John C. West Forum on Politics and Policy is focusing on voter registration efforts. The campus-wide Decision 2020 Committee is working on Voter Friendly Campus and All-In Campus Challenge efforts." 

"Black Women and the Suffrage Movement" with Dr. Jennifer Dixon-McKnight

Thursday, Oct. 8, 11 a.m. via Zoom. Register in advance for cultural event credit: https://bit.ly/33wSXH1 

"Hard Won, Not Done: Suffrage History in the U.S." with Dr. Karen Kedrowski

Tuesday, Oct. 27, 11 a.m. via Zoom

Film Discussion: "The Divine Order" with Disney

Wednesday, Nov. 18, 7 p.m., Dina's Place

 

Past events since publication:

Film Discussion: "Iron Jawed Angels"

Monday, Sept. 28, 7 p.m., Dina's Place

Constitution Day speaker: Dr. Brandon Ranallo-Benavidez

Thursday, Sept. 17, 11 a.m. via Zoom

"Elections in the Time of Coronavirus: Voting in a Global Pandemic"

Wednesday, Sept. 2, 7-8 p.m., via Facebook Live: https://www.facebook.com/events/588091738546924/ 

A non-partisan examination of what voters need to know to register and vote in November. Organized by the Winthrop Alumni Association, questions can be sent in advance by emailing alumni@winthrop.edu by Aug. 28. 

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Last Updated: 10/4/21