The following article was written and published by Barbara King in the December 2020 edition of the North Vernon Plain Dealer & Sun newspaper.
Throughout 2020, women and men across our nation celebrated and marked the 100th anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment which gave women the right to vote. It was on August 18, 1920, when Tennessee became the 36th state to enact passage of the proposal and a new era began as women embraced full citizenship rights. The passage of the Amendment was a historic achievement by anyone’s measure, as for the first time in this nation women were embraced by the U.S. Constitution as full and active citizens allowed to fully participate in our democratic processes.
Throughout our history, though, women did not sit still and wait for suffrage to be extended. While they did not have the right to vote, they participated in and helped shape our history, nation-ally and here in our community. Local history certainly reflects this. As such, to mark the 19th Amendment Centennial, this special section celebrates some of the women who have contributed to the quality of life here in Jennings in five different areas. Women featured are a result of nominations from the public and a vote by a volunteer committee formed to bring this project proposed by the JC Economic Development Commission to fruition.
EDC Director Kathy Ertel thought it was important to celebrate women of the past and present who have made a “significant impact to the history and vitality of our community. It is sometimes easy to forget the groundbreaking work of the past that allows us the freedoms we experience today. I feel we must take notice of the importance of the women’s right to vote.” And that is what this project was designed to do: to take note and to remember and honor a cross-section of women who have contributed in various areas of local life. Ertel admits “It is a small sampling as it is impossible to identify everyone. I hope our efforts will create a conversation around women who have been (or currently are) impactful role models.
Perhaps if that person is still alive, you might have a chance to say “Thank you” for what they have done.” But this project is not just for women, either. Deanna Howard, representing Psi Iota Xi, knows that her daughter has many more opportunities open to her today because of the women who “persisted throughout history to make a difference even when there were numerous, huge constraints in the way.” However, that is not enough.
“We must keep striving for the day that it doesn’t matter if you are male, female, or from a different culture or ethnicity. We should all be on common ground and not ‘thankful’ because things are better now than they’ve ever been. The starting line needs to be the same for everyone. “This recognition of this Centennial
is a good way to keep our eyes on that.”
(Other committee members and organizational sponsors are: Chris Asher and Louise Malcomb, JC Historical Society; Debby Jackson, Delta Theta Tau; Barbara King, Plain Dealer & Sun; Joanie Van Horn, JC Community Foundation; Cheryl Wade, Wednesday Research Club; and Anna Walker, JC Economic Development Commission.)