Wisconsin will celebrate the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote with non-partisan events at the State Capitol.

The Women’s Suffrage Centennial Celebration will include participation by First Lady of Wisconsin Kathy Evers, former lieutenant governor and executive director of the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission Rebecca Kleefisch, Christian Overland, director of the State Historical Society and Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley.

But what about Kenosha’s role in making suffrage a reality? Many may not be familiar with the important role Kenosha played in this struggle.

Kenosha (which prior to 1850 was known as Southport) was the home of the Southport Telegraph, a Free-Soil newspaper that supported abolition of slavery, women’s rights and temperance.

Charles C. Sholes, a mayor of Kenosha, elected to the State Assembly as a Republican and later as a state senator (National Union Party temporary name used by the Republican Party) was the first to introduce women suffrage in the state in 1856.

Lucy Stone, noted abolitionist and suffragist who was an advocate promoting rights for women, spoke in Kenosha.

So as we celebrate the centennial of Wisconsin’s ratification of the 19th Amendment, let us not forget the important role Kenosha played in changing our nation’s political landscape.

Tom Mortenson is former Racine City Council president and National Turning Point Suffragist Memorial board member. He now lives in Detroit Lakes, Minn.

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