Women’s Equality Day has been celebrated annually for over 20 years with a program by a local Dallas women’s organization, Women’s Issues Network (WIN). Formed in 1980, WIN has continuously worked for women’s rights and equality. The group celebrated the 99th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment allowing women the right to vote with an event at Dallas City Hall on August 21.
Over 150 women attended wearing white to represent the women suffragists who campaigned for women’s voting rights. The history of that campaign is kept alive annually on Women’s Equality Day because there are still many battles to be fought for women’s equality.
The event is only an hour long so that the newly elected Mayor Eric Johnson and City Council members can attend on their lunch break. With so many new councilmembers, the majority did their homework and wore white to show their support including Jennifer Staubach Gates, Adam Bazaldua, Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Adam McGough, Casey Thomas, Chad West, Tennell Atkins, David Blewitt, Paula Blackmon, and Carolyn King Arnold. A surprise guest this year was Commissioner John Wiley Price. It was his first time to attend and, with his reputation for being well dressed, he was appropriately attired in white.
Other elected officials in attendance – and wearing white - included Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, State Representatives Victoria Neave and Rhetta Bowers, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, Dallas County Commissioners Dr. Theresa Daniel and Dr. Elba Garcia,.
Proclamations from the State of Texas, Dallas County and the City of Dallas were read and a brief program followed. Featured speakers were Tracy Palmer, Cecilia McKay and vickie washington, three outstanding ladies from the community who shared their stories about the struggles and hardships endured to achieve the success they have today. Each spoke of when women in their communities, African American, Hispanic and Native American, received the right to vote, which was later that when Anglo women were allowed to vote on the national level. Some states had already given Anglo women voting rights.
Tracy Palmer is currently a Specialist II working in the American Indian Education Program for the Dallas Independent School District. Ms. Palmer has been with DISD for 11 years and in Indian Education for 25 years, working with Native American students in grades pre-K through 12. She earned an Associate degree from Haskell Indian Junior College, a B.F.A. from the University of Tulsa and a master’s degree in Gifted Education from Oklahoma City University. Ms. Palmer is honored to have a career serving her people and assisting Native American students prepare for a career or a higher education degree after graduation from high school. Ms. Palmer is a descendent from three tribes: Creek, Seminole and Cherokee. She is a registered member of the Muskogee Creek Anion of Oklahoma.
Cecillia McKay, an active Community volunteer, has held Leadership positions in numerous non-profit organizations since moving to Dallas in 1988. She has served as president of the Hispanic 100, the Hispanic Women’s Network of Texas, Dallas and State, the Women’s Center of Dallas and the League of Women Voters Dallas. Among the many recognitions for her volunteer work, Ms. McKay’s awards include: the American Jewish Congress’ Women of Spirit; Girl’s Inc., She know Where She is Going; SMU’s Profiles in Leadership; Dallas Women’s Foundation Leadership Award (formerly the Women’s Center of Dallas Maura Women Helping Women Award); and the YWCA Volunteer with a Heart. After a long career in the financial field, Ms. McKay transitioned to the non-profit world and was Executive Director of the Concilio until her retirement in 2005.
vickie washington is a stage and screen actor, writer, teacher, director and acting and audition coach. A graduate of Texas Women’s University, Dallas native washingrton says that she has been working and teaching in the Dallas theater Community for so long that former students are now hiring her. She is an instructor and director in the theater department of Dallas’ Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, and in 2015 was recognized by the Dallas Observer as the best director for the world premiere production of former student Jonathan Norton’s Mississippi Goddamn. She is also the founder and producing director of r.t.w.~reading the writers, a readers theatre performance organization. The mother of 4, who earned her Actors Equity card while still in her 20’s, deeply values the gift of theatre and the powerful ways in which it can be utilized to tell the stories of the African Diaspora.
Sponsors for this event
American Association of University Women—Dallas Chapter; BURRS; Sumico Columbia; Carol Donovan-Dallas County Democratic Party-Chair; Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc Dallas Alumnae Chapter; The Honorable Harryette Ehrhardt; Federally Employed Women-Dallas Area Chapter; Catalina Garcia, M.D.; Marcy Helfand; Hispanic Heritage Ambassadors— Powerful Women Committee; Hispanic Women’s Network of Texas; Jane’s Due Process; Dr. Scherry Johnson; La Voz Del Anciano; League of Women Voters of Collin County; League of Women Voters of Dallas; Martha Tiller Company; Nicole and Ian Mattingly; Marilyn Mauthe; National Council of Jewish Women— Greater Dallas Section; Our Friends Place; Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas; Lillian E. Salerno; Judy Shure; South East Dallas Business & Professional Women’s Club; Southwest Jewish Congress; Texas Equal Access (TEA) Fund; Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation; Texas Women’s Foundation; The Afiya Center; The Links Inc. — Dallas Chapter; United Nations Association — Dallas Chapter; Veteran Feminists of America; Women Organizing Women (WOW) Democrats; Women’s Council of Dallas County.
Although women's voting rights are taken for granted today, they were earned through a long brutal campaign by women that began in the 1700's and culminated nearly 150 years later when the 19th Amendment was passed on August 26, 1920.
Until the passage of the Amendment, women were not allowed the right to own property, to have legal claim to the money they earned, nor the right to vote. Clothes, jewelry, and land were owned by their husbands or fathers. Bibles were one of their few possessions that they could hand down to their children.
Photos by Deborah Brown
Key to photos
1 Mayor Eric Johnson
2 Councilmen show their support: Adam Bazaldua, Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Adam McGough, Casey Thomas, Chad West, Tennell Atkins, David Blewitt.
3 Councilwomen in support: Paula Blackmon, Cara Mendelsohn, Carolyn King Arnold, Jennifer Staubach Gates, WIN Member Norma Minnis.
4 Harryette Ehrhardt, Dr. Theresa Daniel
5 Most in the audience were wearing white.
6 More white everywhere!
7 Clare Buie Chaney, Karen Roberts, JoAnn Jenkins.
8 Councilmen Adam Medrano, Omar Narvaez.
9 Dr. Theresa Danial, Tracy Palmer, Cecilia McKay, vickie washington.