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'Vote for women' Local groups mark 100 years of women's right to vote

"Votes for Women"

Danielle Robbins, education coordinator for the Cowlitz County Historical Museum, waves to a passing vehicle at the museum's Women's Suffrage Parade event celebrating the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment at R.A. Long High School Tuesday.

A different kind of demonstrator was in front of R.A. Long high school Tuesday, wearing 1920s dresses and holding signs saying “Vote for Women” and “President Wilson, how long must women wait for liberty?”

The “protestors” were really Cowlitz County Historical Museum staff, reenacting the women’s suffrage movement in honor of Tuesday’s 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment giving many American women the right to vote.

Museum director Joseph Govednik said the timeline of women’s suffrage is different in Washington, because women briefly got the right to vote in 1884, before a Supreme Court decision took it away again in 1887.

Several local political groups marked the centennial of the nationwide suffrage movement win with a drive-through “parade” that featured registration booths, historical facts and a focus on getting politically engaged.

Longview City Councilwoman Ruth Kendall attended the event and said it was important to celebrate and use the right that her predecessors worked so hard to win.

“Voting is so important. We have to come together as women for the community,” she said.

The League of Women Voters of Cowlitz County, Cowlitz County Democratic Women and the Cowlitz County Republican Women’s Club organized a series of booths on the lawn outside R.A. Long high school. People drove their cars down the one-way street and stopped at each booth, learning about what the groups do, registering to vote and how to get involved.

The parade theme was “Get the Vote, Get Involved. Women supporting Women” to carry the activism of the 1920s forward to today, event organizer Elaine Cockrell said.

“We didn’t want to let a 100-year anniversary go by unnoticed,” she said. “We’re having still such issues with getting people to register and getting them to vote and not have voter suppression.”

Longview Mayor MaryAlice Wallis was also passing out information at the event and said she was happy to see Cowlitz County’s record-high turnout this past primary election, because voting is a vital right and duty.

And Cowlitz County Republican Women’s Club President Norma Peters, who was passing out information about how 16- and 17-year-olds can pre-register to vote, said she liked how different groups came together for the event. In total, eight groups turned out Tuesday afternoon, including Altrusa International of Longview-Kelso and the American Association of University Women.

“We’re all women and we all want what’s best for our country,” Peters said. “We want to see all women and men vote.”

The 19th Amendment was fully ratified August 18, 1920, giving American women the right to vote. However, African Americans and other minority women did not fully win the right to vote until decades later, according to the National Archives.

“Achieving this milestone required a lengthy and difficult struggle; victory took decades of agitation. Beginning in the mid-19th century, woman suffrage supporters lectured, wrote, marched, lobbied, and practiced civil disobedience to achieve what many Americans considered radical change,” according to the National Archives.

Everyone working the booths wore masks and, if handing out materials, gloves, as COVID-19 precautions, Cockrell said. And drivers and passengers remained inside their cars.

While it’s not as big of a production as it might have been without the pandemic, Cockrell said the groups wanted to come together and do what they could.

“We really wanted to show that we could work across the aisle,” Cockrell, who is with the Cowlitz County Democratic Women. “We wanted to show you could work together and create something fun for everyone and not have it be contentious.”

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According to NW Labor Press, International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 21 filed a petition asking the National Labor Relations Board to hold an election for about 160 papermakers at the mill. There are also efforts underway to organize roughly 220 other workers at the mill who work in maintenance, warehouse, fiberline and flexpool.

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