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Human Rights Day 2019 Event Recap: The Impact of the Women’s Suffrage Movement Today

Panelists (left-to-right) Corrine McConnaughy, Elaine Weiss, Colleen Shogan. Photo by Donna Sokol.

Every year, the Law Library celebrates Human Rights Day with a panel discussion focusing on understanding and recognition of a critical social, economic, or cultural human rights issue. This year’s program, on Tuesday, December 10, 2019, focused on how the women’s suffrage movement impacts women’s rights today.

The event started with a viewing of the Shall Not Be Denied Exhibition, followed by remarks and introductions by our Law Librarian of Congress, Jane Sánchez, who reflected on the importance of Human Rights Day. The panel discussion was then moderated by Dr. Colleen Shogan, the assistant deputy librarian of the Library Collections and Services Group, and the Library’s representative on the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission. The panelists were Corrine McConnaughy, associate professor of political science at The George Washington University and author of The Woman Suffrage Movement in America: A Reassessment, and Elaine Weiss, journalist and author of The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote

Panelists (left-to-right) Corrine McConnaughy, Elaine Weiss, Colleen Shogan. Photo by Donna Sokol.

In their conversation, the panel discussed why the women’s suffrage movement succeeded when it did and why it took over seventy years for the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to be enacted. They discussed the two sides of the fight and why there were prominent women on the anti-suffragist side. In their respective books, they both argue that while this was a national movement, the story of women’s suffrage is a story about states and localities. They went on to explain why it is important to keep in mind the role of states in voting and how race intersected with gender, and how such intersectionality continues today. They shared lessons for women who want to become active in politics today and what they can draw from the women’s suffrage movement. The program concluded with questions and answers from the audience.

A video of this discussion will be posted once it becomes available.

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