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Mural dedication will mark local efforts for women’s rights

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Sue Conley
August 26, 2010

August marks the 90th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment:


“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”


The Tennessee General Assembly became the 36th state to ratify the amendment on Aug. 18, 1920, making it official. Harry T. Burn provided the deciding vote. He had been against the amendment until he received a letter from his mother, which read, in part, “I have been watching to see how you stood, but have not noticed anything yet. Don’t forget to be a good boy.”


Harry heeded his mother’s advice, changed his vote to “yea,” and the rest, as they say, is history.


After a 70-year effort, women in the United States of America finally won the right to vote, proving Susan B. Anthony correct when she stated, “Failure is impossible!”


In 1971, Congress designated Aug. 26 as “Women’s Equality Day” to commemorate the passage of the 19th Amendment and the success of the civil rights movement by women that began in 1848 at the world’s first women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, N.Y.


Janesville women were very active in the suffragist movement. Downtown Janesville will dedicate a new outdoor mural installed on the Rock County Courthouse on Thursday to pay tribute to women’s unique contributions to the growth of our community. The Janesville Women’s History Mural covers the period 1860-1890, when local women asserted their influence in the life of the community and began breaking ground for equal rights.


The mural honors the memory of the late Judi Kneece, a dedicated community servant and lifelong advocate for women, history, art and Janesville. Friends of Judi Kneece and the Janesville Design & Development Center collaborated to raise money for the project. Plans are underway to create an educational component, as well.


The Janesville Women’s History Mural dedication is open to the public, Thursday, August 26 at 5:00 PM in the lower Courthouse parking lot with a reception to follow in the Courthouse lobby. Christine Lidbury, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Women’s Council will give the keynote address. Refreshments will be served.


Sue Conley is executive director of the Community Foundation of Southern Wisconsin, 26 S. Jackson St., Janesville, WI 53548; phone (608) 758-0883 or 1-800-995-2379; website www.cfsw.org. The foundation matches personal philanthropy with community need.

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