September 30, 2016

Standing At The Eleanor Roosevelt Historic Site, Senator Gillibrand Announces Bipartisan Legislation To Establish Women's Suffrage Centennial Commission In Honor Of 100th Anniversary Of Passage And Ratification Of 19th Amendment

Senator Gillibrand’s bill would help recognize New York’s role in the women’s suffrage movement, provide funding opportunities to organizations in the Hudson Valley to support educational programs commemorating the 19th Amendment

Hyde Park, N.Y. – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced the bipartisan Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission Act (S.3073) at the Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site at Valkill. This legislation would establish a Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission in honor of the 100th anniversary of the passage and ratification of 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guaranteed women the right to vote. The Commission would work with federal, state and local governments, private organizations, as well as Congress to develop and coordinate educational activities for Americans to learn about the suffrage movement. Under this legislation, the Commission would provide grants that support organizations in the Hudson Valley and across the country commemorating the anniversary of the 19th Amendment.

“This legislation would help educate and inspire young people around the country about the unparalleled importance of the women’s suffrage movement in American history” said Senator Gillibrand. “The women’s suffrage movement was born in New York, women’s rights were championed by the strong and brilliant Eleanor Roosevelt, and nearly a century after the 19th Amendment was passed and ratified, our state continues to be at the forefront of fighting for women’s rights, from paid family leave to equal pay for equal work. The 19th Amendment changed the world for the better, and it deserves our commemoration. I will urge all of my colleagues in the Senate to support the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission Act.”

“We are delighted that Senator Gillibrand announced the legislation establishing a national centennial commission to honor the 100th anniversary of women's suffrage at a press conference at ValKill,” said Manuela Roosevelt, Chair, The Eleanor Roosevelt Valkill Partnership. “No setting in New York State is more appropriate than Eleanor Roosevelt's home for announcing the establishment of this commission. As a First Lady of immense consequence, as an individual deeply committed to democratic values for our nation and the world, as a political activist who continues to influence and inspire across generations, Eleanor Roosevelt valued women's right to vote as a unique privilege of engaged citizenship. We value Senator Gillibrand's important contribution and leadership in highlighting this very important right.”

“The approach to the national centennial of women being granted the right to vote offers an opportunity for us to look back, consider women's contemporary status in politics, and envision women's future role,” said Kathleen (KT) Tobin, Ph.D., Associate Director, The Benjamin Center for Public Policy Initiatives at SUNY New Paltz. “After a long struggle, New York's landmark provision of full voting rights preceded the national action by almost three years, in fact, we were the only state on the east coast to grant full voting rights before 1920. As Senator Gillibrand launches efforts to focus recognition of this national milestone, in the Hudson Valley, The Benjamin Center for Public Policy Initiatives at SUNY New Paltz and partners are convening a conference to examine the history, present situation, and future of women in public life on April 21-22, 2017 in anticipation of the hundredth anniversary of women winning suffrage in New York State.”

“The suffragist fight was one of the first acts of civil disobedience. It is imperative that we learn how these brave women persevered at great personal cost, including imprisonment and forced feedings,” said Susan Zimet, President of 2020:Project Women and member of the NYS Suffragist Centennial Commission. “Young women today have so many more rights than the suffragists could have only dreamt of. Thank you to Senator Gillibrand and the other sponsors of the legislation to create a National Women's Suffrage Centennial Commission . This is a great opportunity for the Country to celebrate, educate and honor the work of these women and men as well as showcase where history was made in New York and around the Country."

The State of New York was the birthplace of the women’s suffrage movement and it hosts some of the most legendary landmarks that helped shape this monumental gain in America’s history. New York was a powerful force in the movement for equal rights for women and the passage and ratification of the Nineteenth amendment.  This bill provides the opportunity for New York to be recognized as an instrumental part in the struggle for women’s suffrage by providing grant funding for programs and activities that commemorate the efforts of the movement and the role of New Yorkers who promoted the core values of our democracy. 

Senator Gillibrand is joined by U.S. Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Susan Collins (R-ME), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Patty Murray (D-WA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) on the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission Act.