UNION, NJ -- Fanwood Mayor Colleen Mahr and Elizabeth Councilwomen Patricia Perkins-Auguste co-hosted a breakfast attended by 200 women from across Union and Essex Counties to celebrate and acknowledge that women have only had the right to vote in America for 100 years on Saturday, Feb. 8, at Galloping Hill Golf Course.
The event attracted elected officials and their constituents from across north and central New Jersey. Attendees wore white in honor of the suffragettes who fought for voting rights in the early 1900s.
"As we head into 2020, we need to make sure people exercise their right to vote and not squander what those courageous women gave us," said Mayor Mahr. "We know how important it is -- especially this year. Women need to come out and vote in the 2020 election and make their voices heard."
Speakers included Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, NJ Secretary of State Tahesha Way, Sharon Stroye, Director of Public Engagement at the School of Public Affairs at Rutgers University–Newark, and Adele Kenny, Fanwood's poet laureate, who read an original poem. Notable elected officials on hand included Union County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi, Union County Freeholders, Assemblywoman Linda Carter, Mayor Shelley Brindle of Westfield, Mayor Christine Dansereau of Roselle, and numerous other municipal officials.
"One hundred years ago, women fought to have their voices heard at the voting booth. Yesterday was a testament to the diversity of women we have in elected positions at every level and who are leaders in their communities," Mayor Mahr added. "I don’t take for granted that we stand on the shoulders of the women who came before us, and that there’s still a lot of work to be done, so that women are always in the rooms where decisions are made."
According to the National Women’s History Museum, the suffrage movement began in 1848, when a women’s rights convention was held in Seneca Falls, New York. For the next 50 years, under the leadership of Susan B. Anthony and others, suffragettes circulated petitions and lobbied Congress to pass a Constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote. In the 20th century, the combined efforts of the National American Woman Suffrage Association and the National Woman’s Party convinced President Wilson and Congress to pass a women's suffrage amendment. In 1920, the 19th Amendment was ratified.
February 9 marks 100 years to the day that New Jersey ratified the 19th Amendment.