Eyewitness News’ Brad Byrd talks to Tracy McEuen, board member of the League of Women Voters of Southwestern Indiana about the anniversary of women’s right to vote.
BB: Welcome to In-depth 2020 is the 100th anniversary year of the Nineteenth Amendment it guarantees the right to women to vote. Several events are happening in this centennial year to mark that milestone that ushered in major changes. Joining me tonight is Tracy McEuen she is a board member of the League of Women Voters of Southwestern Indiana. The league will present votes for women 1920-2020 this coming Sunday at the Victory Theatre. You’ve gotta very special author coming in tell me about her and what she gonna be sharing.
TM: Sure, thank you for having me. Elaine Weiss is a renowned author and journalist she’s been writing for years. A couple of years ago she wrote this incredible book about the final weeks of women gaining the right to vote. And the final battle in Nashville, Tennesee. Her book’s called the “Woman’s Hour the great fight to win the vote” and she is coming to tell that story at the program at the Victory Theatre. It really is a fascinating read and I’m looking forward to that.
BB: What struck you about this book? You read this book. What did you learn from it? Were you surprised?
TM: I was surprised I think we learned in our history class that there was a 19th Amendment sometimes referred to as Susan B. Anthony Amendment. I didn’t realize how much of a struggle it took for the amendment to pass. One of the most interesting parts of the book was about these 3 factions that converged in Nashville to try to persuade the legislators of their positions. A more moderate protesting suffrage group. A splinter group that was more of the radical group who took a little bit more of the extreme measures to get their ideas across. But then the anti-suffrages who were also … and this is what was really surprising to me lead by women. Women who were protesting and didn’t want women to have the right to vote.
BB: Does that really amaze you though in this country, the land of the free that women that were under this umbrella of fear and exclusion for so long after the constitution was signed?
TM: Yes, and I think it was just one of those things where it was just the way things had always been. But Susan B. Anthony who was a major proponent of this right didn’t live to see it come to fruition. What was also interesting in the book to me was it was a 70-year battle that crossed three generations of women who persevered.
BB: What are the lessons today? How relevant is this today for young women and young girls?
TM: I think it’s really relevant because I think there’s soo much instant gratification today and perhaps a wanting to give up. I think in this day and age, in the society we live in women have come a long way. But I think it’s easy to forget where women were at one time. Not having full citizenship right not being able to own property. Not really having rights to their children above their husbands. It’s really important I think for us to spend this time celebrating where we have been and how far we really have come.
BB: How does the League play a role in this centennial year here in Evansville?
TM: So the League has sponsored and brought along with several community sponsors including EVPL, Deaconess, Women’s Hospital, University of Evansville and others has brought this event together and planned it. The League has very important events to drive civic engagements throughout all years, not just this year. Including voter registration, voter education and things like debates, and meet your legislator’s meetings where people can truly engage with the government.
BB: And we’re right in the middle of an election.
TM: Yes we are it’s very important.
BB: Tracy McEuen thank you so much for being here. I know there are several events coming up but this one coming up is free to the public on Sunday at 2 pm at the Victory Theatre. Alright, thank you.
TM: Thank you.
BB: You’re watching Eyewitness News at 9 Brandon will be back in just a moment.
(This story was originally published on Feb. 5, 2020)