Mayor Simmons Proclaims August 26 Women’s Equality Day in Cambridge

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Honors the 1920 passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution granting women the right to vote

  • Mayor's Proclamation
  • Florence Luscomb
  • Women's Equality Day

“Women won the right to vote almost one century ago, and it was a hard-fought victory that only came about due to generations of women activists who refused to accept the status quo of being second-class citizens,” said Mayor E. Denise Simmons. “Yet 97 years after that milestone, we must recognize that there is still so much work to be done in ensuring that women are given the same status, the same respect, and the same opportunities as men in this country. This requires that we continually teach our daughters and granddaughters about our history, and that we regularly recommit to expanding the scope of Civil Rights and gender equity. Our celebration of August 26 as Women’s Equality Day is an important part of that effort.”  

National History

According to the National Women's History Project, at the behest of Rep. Bella Abzug (D-NY), in 1971 the U.S. Congress designated August 26 as “Women’s Equality Day.”The date was selected to commemorate the 1920 certification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, granting women the right to vote. This was the culmination of a massive, peaceful civil rights movement by women that had its formal beginnings in 1848 at the world’s first women’s rights convention, in Seneca Falls, New York.

Long before that, in 1776, Abigail Adams wrote to her husband, John Adams, during the American Revolution, “I long to hear that you have declared an independency. And, by the way, in the new code of laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors." (source www.History.com)

Today, women and men across the country celebrate this major victory for equity in our society.

Cambridge History and Celebrations

Cambridge has always been home to many notable women, including prominent suffragists. According to the Cambridge Women's Heritage Project database, Florence Hope Luscomb (1887-1985) was a committed believer in world peace, women’s liberation, and workers’ unions, and a familiar figure at protest marches and rallies throughout her long life. Anne Elizabeth (Hubble) Roorbach (1882-1964) was a teacher, civic activist, political reformer, and women’s rights advocate. Mabel Gardiner (Hubbard) Bell (1857-1923) was an educator and suffragist who founded the Montessori Education Association and worked for women’s suffrage.

To celebrate Women’s Equality Day in 2016, Emily Shield, Program Coordinator at the Cambridge Commission on the Status of Women and I shared information about some of the Cantibrigian women who contributed to this cause in a NeighborMedia Tonight interview. Emily also led a walking tour to homes of two of these women, Florence Hope Luscomb and Sarah Sprague Jacobs. Sister NeighborMedia correspondent, Reba-Glory Cabral, directed the group and shared information using the Cambridge Women's Heritage Walks mobile walking tour on the Yonward app (search for Cambridge Women's Heritage Walks).We ended our tour at the Cambridge Women's Center, which, while of later vintage than the suffrage struggle, is an important symbol of the ongoing activism of Cambridge women in support of equity and social justice.

Kimberly Sansoucy, Executive Director of the Cambridge Commission on the Status of Women, who worked with the Mayor’s Office on the proclamation, commented, “The Women’s Commission is grateful to Mayor Simmons for issuing this proclamation in support of Women’s Equality Day. It is critically important to mark these anniversaries as it can be easy for us all to forget – and in some cases not even realize -- just how recent it was in our nation’s history that women won the right to vote. This includes acknowledging that women had to fight for this right; it was not included by the men who founded our country. Which could explain why, even today, many of our policies do not reflect the voices, the lives, and the values of many women.”