August 18 event commemorates women’s right to vote and honors Lansing history
by Melanie Jongsma
Note: In a “normal” week, this story would have been posted on the evening of the event—August 18—or the following day. However, due to technical difficulties with The Lansing Journal website, three days of webinar sessions, administrative details surrounding the launch of Common Ground, and the careful transitioning of responsibilities to new Managing Editor Josh Bootsma, this was not a “normal” week for The Lansing Journal. We apologize that we were unable to publish this news in a more timely fashion.
LANSING, Ill. (August 22, 2020) – Nearly 50 women wearing black attire accented with white sashes sat in socially distanced rows outside Village Hall on Tuesday, August 18. Representing Lansing’s business community, municipal administration, law enforcement, religious institutions, and elected offices, they had received invitations from Mayor Patty Eidam and Village Clerk Vivian Payne to attend a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the passage the 19th Amendment, guaranteeing and protecting women’s constitutional right to vote.
“You all look so beautiful,” Mayor Eidam told the crowd before naming the various elected officials in attendance. Her ten-minute speech included a summary of the process involved in ratifying the 19th amendment and references to its impact on life in Lansing 100 years ago.
“Today is a reminder for all of us to be thankful for the women in our country that fought for women’s suffrage over 100 years ago,” said Mayor Eidam in closing. “It opened many doors for the women of America and allowed them to achieve a greater goal in our society—economically, socially, and politically.”
Mayor Eidam had also asked Village Clerk Vivian Payne to speak at the event. Payne relayed milestones the early suffragists had to pass on their way to achieving ratification. “Now that I know the actual history of our right to vote,” she said, “it will certainly make going to the polls for future elections so much more meaningful for me, and I hope it will be for all of you as well.”
The highlighted speaker was U.S. Congresswoman Robin Kelly. She reminded the crowd, “Women who looked like me and their families were openly and proudly denied their rights as Americans to vote.” And she closed with this encouragement: “What would your grandmother who marched in white banner, blisters on her feet, say, if you did not vote?”
Lansing’s only other female elected official—Trustee Maureen Grady-Perovich—was invited to read a historic poem titled “Song for Equal Suffrage,” by social activist Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860-1935):
Song for Equal Suffrage
Day of hope and day of glory! After slavery and woe,
Comes the dawn of woman’s freedom, and the light shall grow and grow
Until every man and woman equal liberty shall know,
In Freedom marching on!
Woman’s right is woman’s duty! For our share in life we call!
Our will it is not weakened and our power it is not small.
We are half of every nation! We are mothers of them all!
In Wisdom marching on!
Not for self but larger service has our cry for freedom grown,
There is crime, disease and warfare in a world of men alone,
In the name of love we’re rising now to serve and save our own,
As Peace comes marching on!
By every sweet and tender tie around our heartstrings curled,
In the cause of nobler motherhood is woman’s flag unfurled,
Till every child shall know the joy and peace of mother’s world–
As Love comes marching on!
We will help to make a pruning hook of every outgrown sword,
We will help to knit the nations in continuing accord,
In humanity made perfect is the glory of the Lord,
As His world goes marching on!
Following a musical performance and some closing remarks, the attendees were invited to gather in the adjacent History Plaza for a photo taken via the LNN drone.
Lansing’s Village Hall is located at 3141 Ridge Road in Lansing, Illinois, and the History Plaza is on the southwest corner of Ridge Road and Burnham Avenue.