Annual Report of Centennial Commemoration Committee for 2019-2020

The Committee was created to organize events celebrating two different but related events, the founding of the League of Women Voters on February 14, 1920, and the passage on August 26, 1920, of the 19th Amendment enabling women to vote. Committee members are Bonnie Isman, Barbara Pearson, Jessica Ryan (secretary), Ruth Smith, Adrienne Terrizzi, Kathy Vorkwerk, and Susan Millinger ( convener of the Committee; liaison to the Steering Committee.) The Committee met three times between September and January, organizing a half dozen events to occur between October and April, and discussing other events for the summer and fall. The cancellation of public events resulting from the spread of the COVID-19 virus called a halt to the planned events in mid- March.

Events scheduled:

  • October 27, 2019: Conversation about LWVA from the 1950s-1980s. More than 20 members from those years joined in the conversation at Applewood. A good time was had by all. A partial narrative of that conversation will be available on our website.
  • January: The Committee meeting on January 15 made plans for participation in the Fourth Annual Women’s March on January 18th, aiding and supporting those League members (including Committee member Barbara Pearson) who were marching in suffragist attire and carrying a League banner. Several other members of the committee as well as other members of the Amherst League also participated in the March.
  • February 14: The date of founding of the League. A proclamation commemorating the Centennials of the League and Women’s Suffrage was read in Town Council on February 10.
  • February 15: The traditional February Birthday Lunch on February 15, 2020 celebrated the 100th birthday of LWV with an excellent talk by State Senator (and League member) Jo Comerford (Feb 15, 2020). The speaker was chosen and invited by the Committee.
  • March 14th: Planned co-sponsorship with the Jones Library of a screening at the Jones of Standing on My Sisters’ Shoulders, a documentary about the events of the 1960s which finally brought the vote to black women in reality. The film and the discussion which was to follow it, to be led by Tracy Parker, Assistant Professor of Afro-American Studies at U. Mass Amherst had to be cancelled.
  • April 5th: Scheduled talk by Barbara Berenson, author of the fascinating and very readable Massachusetts in the Woman Suffrage Movement: Revolutionary Reformers. This event also had to be cancelled; the hope is that it can be rescheduled for the fall, perhaps as a Zoom webinar if not a live presentation.
  • Substitute events, held April-June: The State League scheduled a spring series of three webinars to compensate for all the cancellations the local Leagues experienced. Amherst members were informed of these events in the e-bulletins. Two of these webinars are still available to be viewed at The discussion of her book, The Untold Story of Women of Color in the League of Women Voters by Dr Carolyn Jefferson-Jenkins, 15th President of LWVUS and Barbara F. Berenson’s talk “After Suffrage: The Campaign for the Equal Rights Amendment, 1920-2020.”

Plans for summer

The Committee hoped to co-sponsor several summer events planned by the Amherst Historical Society. However, under the current circumstances, the Amherst Historical Society recently decided to delay the library suffrage exhibit and program to be funded by the ACC grant until 2021.

The Committee discussed a summer march, either celebrating June 25, on which Massachusetts ratified the 19th, or August 26th, Women’s Equality Day, on which the 19th Amendment became law.

Note that at its June meeting, the Steering Committee decided to honor June 25 by organizing a noon walk from Kendrick Park to the Common in suffragist-type garb (masked, and at six-foot distance.)

The Steering Committee also instructed the Centennial Commemoration Committee to meet and decide what if any commemorative events could be made available safely, whether online or outdoors.

submitted by Susan Millinger