News From Terre Haute, Indiana

August 27, 2013

Make it equal: Women celebrate right to vote

Arthur Foulkes
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Cassidy Moye, a sophomore nursing student at Indiana State University, needed to participate in some volunteer activities as a school requirement. She selected Monday night’s Women’s Equality Day march, and it was a choice she would not regret.

“It was kind of short,” said Moye, 19, of the approximately one-hour event, which included a march across campus and several short speeches on the ISU Quad, the grassy area in the middle of campus.

She wished the event were longer, she said.

“I’m going to come [to future marches] probably for the rest of the years I’m in Terre Haute,” Moye said holding the yellow rose she earned for casting her first vote in last year’s general election.

The League of Women Voters of Vigo County hosted the annual march, which started at Eighth and Chestnut streets and concluded outside Condit House, the residence of the ISU president.

About 200 women and men took part, including several women from the league dressed in the style of clothing of 100 years ago when women’s suffrage was a boiling issue across the country.

“We always need to make our voices heard in every election,” concluded Ann Chirhart, a professor of history at ISU, who helped kick off the march with a historical overview. Mayor Duke Bennett was also present at the start of the event.

Despite some progress, speakers at the rally said, there remains work to do.

“I’m tired of marching,” said Valerie Hart-Craig, program director of the Mentoring Assistance Program at ISU and president of the greater Terre Haute NAACP. Fifty years ago people marched in Washington, calling for equal pay and jobs, she said.

Today, people are still marching for equal pay and jobs, she said.

Even the right to vote is under assault, Hart-Craig said, in reference to the Supreme Court’s recent ruling overturning a provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act requiring states with histories of voter discrimination to clear their voting laws with the federal government.

Another speaker, Leah Allman, vice chancellor of student affairs at Ivy Tech Community College, said she was among the first female student athletes to benefit from Title IX, a federal law prohibiting sexual discrimination in athletics among schools receiving federal aid.

Allman said she recalled practicing in her school’s “old” gym at 5 a.m. in the early days of Title IX. “We’ve come a very long way,” she said.

At the end of the event, league member Bionca Gambill oversaw the distribution of yellow roses to women in the audience, starting with those who had been voting the longest. She then urged the audience to watch a free screening of “Iron Jawed Angels,” a 2004 film drama set in the suffrage movement of the early 20th century.

Anne Elise Parks, a meteorologist for WTWO-TV, also spoke during the rally, saying she is grateful for the tough requirements now in place to be a professional meteorologist. Decades ago, “weather girls” simply acted the part of forecasting weather, she said.

“I have people come up to me and ask, “Are you really a meteorologist,’” Parks said, adding that the stereotype of the “weather girl” is a tough one to shake.

Still, women, led nationally by Barbara Walters and Katie Couric, have made important advances into broadcasting, she said. “I think we’ve come a long way.”

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or arthur.foulkes@tribstar.com