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President Vicki Arnett

 

President’s Perspective

May, 2019

Vicki Arnett, Chapter President

I am honored to serve as our league’s president in this historic time.  Although women in Kansas have been voting at the local level since 1887, in statewide elections since 1912, and federal elections since 2020, as league members, we know our right and access to voting should be celebrated and preserved.  Kansas proposed the first referendum in the nation to allow women the right to vote.  Kansas was the fourth state to ratify the 19th amendment.  Kansas also had the first League of Women Voters chapter established in Wichita in 1919. 

As I learned the facts of our early history, I found myself wanting to know how they did it.  What motivated them to take the path to stand up at a public meeting of mostly men, and demand equal access to the vote?  What were the conversations like with their husbands, family, children, and friends when they marched and went to jail? How did they move forward when their actions were met with political and legislative defeat ? 

When I attended the recent Community History Day at Washburn University, I didn’t realize I would listen in on the stories throughout the entire day.  Thank you to our many league members who shared their stories with WU history students.  Through the sharing of our stories, we bring the facts of history to life.  It was a joy to experience the interest and enthusiasm of students in our stories and our league. 

When I shared my story of activism in the 1970s and 1980s with Yijuan and Sophie, I felt privileged to describe not only the facts of fighting for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), celebration of International Year of the Woman, raising awareness of sexual and domestic violence, working toward equal access to credit, and political activism to increase the number of women who served in office, but the personal story of dealing with defeat and the courage to try again.  I believe we continue to demonstrate that courage today, whether it is making a phone call to a state legislator or speaking up at a town hall meeting regarding issues of importance to the league.  We support each other to step outside our comfort zone to run for office, have a difficult conversation with elected officials and spend countless hours volunteering to register voters, participating in league organized studies and observing governing bodies at work. Please continue to share your story through volunteering in league activities whether it is voter registration, mentoring a student member, attending a 19th amendment centennial event or joining the observer corp.  Thank you for your courage and support of LWVTSC.