This post was taken from an email from the LWVUS CEO Virginia Kase
One hundred and one years ago, on February 14, the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) met to strategize about their 19th Amendment ratification plan. But they also had an eye toward the future. A constitutional right to vote for women was within reach, but the suffragists knew their work would not end there. In fact, it was just the beginning. NAWSA suffragists voted to form a League of Women Voters to advance the legislative priorities of women and help inform and educate the millions of newly enfranchised voters to fully participate in American democracy.
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Today, we commemorate the founding of our organization. But we must do so humbly, knowing that many women of color were unable to exercise their legal right to vote because of racist policies and barriers that were developed with the explicit intent of silencing their voices. Our organization did not use its newly found power to prevent that from happening.
In reflecting on the long history of our organization, the words of poet laureate Amanda Gorman ring especially true: “Being American is more than a pride we inherit. It's the past we step into and how we repair it.”
There is so much to be proud of on the anniversary of our founding. There is equally much to learn from and repair. An anniversary is an opportunity to do both. We will never forget our failures, and we will never stop working to be an organization that is inclusive, has diverse representation in our leadership, and uplifts the voices of those who are marginalized in our country.
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The League of Women Voters has evolved from a mighty political experiment designed to help 20 million newly enfranchised women vote in 1920, to what it is today: a unique, nonpartisan organization that is a recognized force in molding political leaders, shaping public policy, and promoting informed citizen participation at all levels of government.
The League of Women Voters takes pride in what we have accomplished over the past 101 years, and we humbly rededicate ourselves to the mission of empowering voters and defending democracy for another 100.
Chief Executive Officer, LWVUS
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