Would Suffragists Support The Equal Rights Amendment? Find Out at the 2019 Dead Suffragists’ Debate

Would you like to meet some of the women who brought the vote to women 100 years ago? These women who changed the US political landscape may be gone, but you will have a chance to hear their arguments for women’s rights on Thursday, Nov 19, 2019 during the Dead Suffragists’ Debate.

This debate will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, passed June 4, 1919, that states: “The rights of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.” On 18 August 1920, the 36th state ratified the amendment, and 8 days later it was officially adopted.

The Amendment was championed by several of the historical figures that will be on the stage at the Debate. All of them are contemporaries, but each experienced the period in a differently. The debate will be a fun experience to help those attending appreciate both the collective striving for women’s rights and the difficulties of finding common ground. This year two scholars, a BYU faculty member, and a student will be playing the roles of these visionaries:

Barbara Jones Brown, Executive Director of the Mormon History Association, will play Martha Hughes Cannon

Jane Hafen, Emerita Professor of English from University of Nevada, Las Vegas, will play Zitkala-Sa a.k.a Gertrude Bonnin

Jamie Horrocks, a BYU Assistant Professor of English, will play Alice Paul

Kayla Jackson, a BYU Political Science and Global Women’s Studies student, will play Ida B. Wells

While this debate will commemorate the 19th amendment, it will also be considering the Equal Rights Amendment, that states “equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” This amendment was passed by Congress on March 22, 1972. This amendment, which did not require a time limit for ratification, still requires a single state’s vote to be ratified, the state of Utah.

In addition to hearing about these historical figures’ lives, the debate will consider what changed in some communities before, between, and after the legislation of the two amendments, one that has been ratified, the other that has not.

The Debate of the Dead is an annual event held by the Department of History that brings to life historical figures from the past to help shed light on the issues and challenges of their times, and how they effect us today.

This event is free of charge and open to the public. To get more information on the Dead Suffragists’ Debate, contact the History department at 801-422-4636.

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