From the beginning — even at its birth — the LWV was controversial:
- It was to be political — but non-partisan. Always a tricky balance — as you well know.
- It was to be a women’s political organization, but outside of the political parties. Also tricky.
But you have faithfully and joyfully followed that idealistic blueprint for the last century.
Today we face a new onslaught of threats to our democratic foundations — the work of the League is our best defense.
You are patriots in the most profound way. Not in the easy, sloganeering, flag-waving way, but the long, tough, frustrating and complicated business of nourishing and strengthening our Democracy, making it live up to its promise, for all citizens.
We need you more than ever—for the next century.
Just days before the 19thAmendment entered the Constitution, Carrie Chapman Catt returned home and wrote a message to the women of America — a benediction and a charge — which I find as powerful and meaningful now as it was then:
“The vote is the emblem of your equality, women of America, the guarantee of your liberty.
That vote of yours has cost millions of dollars and the lives of thousands of women. Women have suffered agony of soul which you can never comprehend, that you and your daughters might inherit political freedom.
That vote has been costly. Prize it!
The vote is a power, a weapon of offense and defense, a prayer.
Understand what it means and what it can do for your country. Use it intelligently, conscientiously, prayerfully. The vote is won. Seventy-two years the battle for this privilege has been waged, but human affairs with their eternal change move on without pause.
Progress is calling to you to make no pause. ACT!”
- Adapted from keynote address to the LWV of the U.S. annual convention, July 2018,
- Elaine Weiss is the author of The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote, Viking/Penguin