Del. women’s club set for Suffragette March

DOVER — It has been 100 years since the 19th Amendment to the Constitution gave women the right to vote. And it took women around 100 years of fighting to finally earn that right in 1920.

That is why the members of the Delaware State Federation of Women’s Clubs will be celebrating that historic milestone with a Suffragette March on Wednesday on The Green in downtown Dover from 10-11:30 a.m.

The DSFWC is a part of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs and will commemorate the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage with a march that will take place around The Green. There will also be a reading of the proclamation from the Delaware Legislature marking the event and other speakers.

The actual language of the 19th Amendment will be read and remarks will be made outlining the history and significance of women winning the right to vote.

Selbyville’s Rita Hollada, DSFWC president, said a bigger national celebration had been planned for Washington, D.C., but concerns about gathering amid the COVID-19 pandemic quashed those plans.

“The celebration in Dover came about because so many of the planned events … had to be canceled as a result of the coronavirus outbreak,” Ms. Hollada said. “These included a large celebration in Washington, D.C., by the GFWC and a parade on the Rehoboth boardwalk.”

So members of the Delaware State Federation of Women’s Clubs decided to focus on a more localized celebration.

“DSFWC member club, the Dover Century Club, has its clubhouse on The Green,” said Ms. Hollada. “Through the club’s efforts, permission was granted to march on The Green to commemorate this historic date and event.

“Members from the clubs of the Delaware State Federation will assemble outside the clubhouse, in costume, to participate in this program. Of course, the public is invited to attend. Social distancing will be observed using the pre-painted circles on The Green, and masks are required.”

The women’s suffrage movement was a decades-long fight to win the right to vote for women in the United States. It took activists and reformers nearly 100 years to win that right. On Aug. 18, 1920, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was finally ratified, enfranchising all American women and declaring for the first time that they, like men, deserved all the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.

“This is an extremely important date for women, as it opened many avenues for them in addition to the right to register and vote,” Ms. Hollada said. “Having become law so near the 1920 election, women’s clubs throughout the country embarked on a campaign to get women registered and out to vote in that election.”

Ms. Hollada added that women’s clubs of today can tip their caps to those who came ahead of them and fought against great odds.

“The commemoration was an outgrowth of efforts by the General Federation of Women’s Clubs to celebrate the passage and signing into law of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote,” she said. “The GFWC had its genesis in the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848.

“Women’s clubs were formed throughout the country and the state of Delaware to pursue passage of the amendment, and ultimately, to dedicate themselves to community improvement through volunteer service. Finally, after 70 years, it was ratified by the 36th state on Aug. 18, 1920.”

She added: “It finally became the law of the land when formally adopted on Aug. 26, 1920, when signed by then-Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby. The march on The Green is a one-time event to commemorate the signing into law of the 19th Amendment.”