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Coming Together to Remember the Ladies Who Fought for Freedom

Angela Dodson, renowned journalist, editor and author of "Remember the Ladies: Celebrating Those Who Fought for Freedom at the Ballot Box,” says the history of the women’s suffrage movement holds crucial lessons for the scial movements today.

The beginnings of the women’s suffrage movement can be traced back to the anti-slavery movement in Philadelphia. Many of the same women were involved in both causes, she said. Even then, blacks and whites served as allies whose causes intersected and bonded their lives together.

They were activists with a multitude of causes, rather than mothers and sisters with a singular focus. Many of these ladies joined the temperance movement and the free produce movement, which urged citizens to boycott products made with slave labor.

“They went from one meeting to the next, from temperance to abolitionist to free produce meetings,” Dodson explained. Each group then benefited from having well-informed allies that they could call upon as needed.

Dodson’s celebrated book takes readers along their extraordinary journey, where social movements over the decades intersected, sometimes battled and aligned. Fast forward to today, where a greater proportion of American women than American men currently vote but no woman ever has been elected President in United States.

“I really want the book to be a conversation starter about where American women are politically … and why we can’t seem to get to the White House or even see it from here,” Dodson told the audience at the Winnet Coffeehouse at the event commemorating Women’s History Month.
Dr. Claudia Curry, director of the College’s Women’s Outreach and Advocacy Center, moderated the program. President Guy Generals offered opening remarks, stressing the importance of sharing the stories of the remarkable women in our own lives as well as the stories of sheroes.

Dodson’s remarks were followed by a panel discussion where students Anyssa Elmanfaa,nCameron Battle-Bradshaw and Katherine Freni discussed applicable lessons they had taken from the lives of Sojourner Truth, Shirley Chisholm and Lucretia Mott.

Afterward, Dr. Tabitha Morgan, assistant professor of English and instructor of the College’s Women’s History class, echoed the theme of the day: the importance of expanding social movements to include a wider range of allies.

“We are so fractured,” Morgan said. “How can we work together and be stronger and better?”  Dodson said many people thought that giving women the right to vote would change the nation dramatically. Some thought, “it would end war, maybe crime, and our schools would be better. But women didn’t vote as a bloc,” she explained. “They voted their specific interests and, in some cases, their husband’s interests.”

The diversity dialogue is one of many events happening across the city as Philadelphia prepares to mark the death of Dr. King on April 4. This event is part of a series of conversations held citywide to recall King’s impact and legacy.

After Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 presidential election - even though she actually won the popular vote - energy has flowed into the women's movement. Since 2016, more than 30,000 women have sought support to run for public office.

Said Dodson, “It feels as though we are at the cusp of change.”