On Tuesday, February 25, 2020, YWCA Southeastern MA was recognized at the Massachusetts State House as one of the recipients of Mass Humanities’ “The Vote” project. “The Vote” is a statewide conversation about the past, present, and future of voting rights. “The Vote” commemorates the centennial of the 19th Amendment by providing Massachusetts residents with free opportunities to consider issues including women’s suffrage, the Civil Rights movement, voter suppression, civics education, and teen voting. There are over fifty events scheduled throughout 2020 in seventeen communities across the Commonwealth.

In collaboration with the New Bedford Whaling Museum’s Lighting the Way: Historic Women of the SouthCoast project, the YWCA was awarded funding from Mass Humanities, the Mass Cultural Council, as well as the New Bedford Cultural Council, to host “Lighting the Way from Suffrage to Civic Engagement: A Suffrage Series on Racial and Gender Justice in the SouthCoast.” Over the course of 2020, the YWCA and Lighting the Way will host three separate events that explore the subject of voting rights in our community. We are thrilled to have Lee Blake, President of the New Bedford Historical Society, join us as our Project Scholar. These activities include:

  • March 12, 2020 – Ignite: A Showcase of Youth Art Inspired by Historic Women of the SouthCoast.
    ART IGNITES HISTORY! See and experience powerful art created by young artists and inspired by remarkable women from history. Many of these original artworks – whether exhibited, written, or performed – highlight the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, honor the unfinished legacy of the women’s suffrage movement, or highlight civically engaged women featured in the New Bedford Whaling Museum project Lighting the Way: Historic Women of the SouthCoast. All pieces included in the IGNITE Showcase are eligible for a cash award based on their relevance, creativity, and originality. This event is free and open to all. At the New Bedford Whaling Museum, 6:00 – 8:00 pm. For more information, visit https://www.whalingmuseum.org/programs/ignite-youth-showcase/
  • April 18, 2020 – Lighting the Way to Equality Forum & Resource Fair
    This event welcomes historian and author Dr. Melanie Gustafson for a discussion on women’s struggles for political inclusion, the changing meanings of gender, and how these factors influenced ideas and structures shaping democratic citizenship. Our goal is that celebrating the Centennial will engage and motivate young people and adults to appreciate and exercise their rights to be informed and engaged community members, citizens, and voters. Immediately following there will be a resource fair of local organizations who are ready to engage women (and men), youth through adult, as volunteers or activists. This event is free and open to all. At the New Bedford Whaling Museum 1:30 – 3:00 pm.
  • September 2020 Date TBD – Centering Women of Color in the History of Voting Rights and the Women’s Suffrage Movement.
    This event will address how the 19th Amendment did not result in voting rights for all women and how the challenges of its passage reverberate to the ongoing fight for gender and racial equity today. A keynote speaker will be joined by community activists who will highlight the role of women of color in the voting rights movement and how they emphasized the intersection of race and gender. Together they will reflect on stories, challenges, and achievements in the battle for the vote.

To read more about all of the exciting events planned for 2020, please read Kiernan Dunlop’s article “Centennial of Women’s Suffrage Spurs Look at Local Women of Achievement” in the Standard Times! The YWCA and our partners are honoring not only the trailblazing Southcoast women who came before us, but the women making history right now. Throughout March and 2020, we will be highlighting the continued work happening today on behalf of women’s and civil rights across Southeastern MA