WWHP President’s Address: Women’s Equality Day

August 26, 2016, Noon, City Hall Plaza, Worcester

Good afternoon. 

As president of Worcester Women’s History Project, I am honored to welcome all of you to this celebration of the 96th anniversary of the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, recognizing the right of American women to vote. 

For those of you who are not familiar with the Worcester Women’s History Project website, I’d like to take this opportunity to acquaint you with the organization. Worcester Women's History Project seeks to: 

  •  raise awareness of the rich history of women in the Worcester area 
  •  create national recognition of Worcester's role in the history of the women's rights movement 
  •  advance the ideals put forth in the 1850 convention that there should be "equality before the law, without distinction of sex or color," or ethnicity. 

Although the 1848 Seneca Falls conference is often mentioned in regard to 19th century feminism, the first NATIONAL Woman’s Rights Convention took place right here in Worcester in 1850. 

Slavery was, of course, at that time legal in many states of the Union, and the cause of abolitionism was in 1850 in Worcester inseparable from women’s rights. 

Although this organization—and this celebration—is free of partisan politics, may I take the liberty to quote from a current candidate for a very high office. In her acceptance speech for her party’s nomination, this female politician said, “When a barrier falls in America, it clears the way for everyone.” 

So we are here today, not only to celebrate the freedom of women to vote, but also to recognize what freedoms have been won by everyone, men and women. Just as slavery tied both master and slave by the same chains, the denial of full citizenship to women diminished men of the time as well. Full suffrage freed men to benefit from the talents, intelligence and power of all fellow citizens, many of whom just happened to be female. 

In that spirit I encourage everyone here—women and men—to take up membership in Worcester Women’s History Project, remembering our past, to better shape our future. 

Ann Marie Shea, WWHP President

Published Date: 
September 18, 2016