Silent Sentinels

The Long Beach Suffrage 100 present a silent demonstration last year at the State Democratic Convention at the Long Beach Convention Center with banners dedicated to the Silent Sentinels who marched in 1917 for women's suffrage.

On Aug. 26, 1920, women across America were officially given the right to vote nationwide with the passage of the 19th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

That's why the date is celebrated as National Women's Equality Day. And that's why Long Beach's own Suffrage 100 has organized a silent celebration of those who went before them, and to call for the passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.

According to a release from the group: "102 years ago, women marched to the White House Fence to put President Wilson on notice that they would remain there until he directed Congress to pass the Amendment and send it out to the states for ratification. Coincidentally, they were living in the middle of a worldwide pandemic while confronting a racist, sexist president who was about to take the country to war."

California was a bit ahead of the trend, with a close election passing the proposition to give women the vote in 1911. While the 19th Amendment allowed women to vote, the country still denied the vote to people based on race, ethnicity, education, age, and class standing. According to the Long Beach group, there have been 11 Congressional Acts and the 26th Amendment gradually expanding the right to vote.

Next Wednesday, Aug. 26, Long Beach Suffrage 100 will partner with the Long Beach Historical Society, the League of Women Voters, the National Council of Jewish Women, Greater LB and West OC, and NOW-Pacific Shore in an hour-long demonstration.

At noon that day, women carrying signs — and wearing masks while standing 6 feet apart along the south side of Ocean Boulevard. The plan is to stand in silence for an hour, until 1 p.m.

The Suffrage 100 will cover the area from Magnolia Avenue to Chestnut Avenue, and are asking the public to join by standing between Chestnut to Alamitos Boulevard.

Long Beach's Historical Society also is partnering with the Suffrage Circle (another name for the Suffrage 100 group) to put together an exhibition in 2021 called A Woman’s Place in the Spotlight. As part of that process, the Historical Society is asking people to nominate women to be part of the Long Beach 100 featured in the exhibition.

To participate, go to hslb.org/the-suffrage-centennial/.

Harry has been executive editor of Gazette Newspapers for more than 26 years. He has been in the newspaper business for more than 35 years, with experience on both weekly and metropolitan daily papers in Colorado and California.

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