Ayanna Polk of Dorchester was among those who gathered at the Boston Public Garden on Aug. 26 to mark Women’s Equality Day, the anniversary of the day in 1920 when the 19th Amendment was added to the US Constitution after decades of activism to enfranchise women.
Three suffragists —Ida B. Wells, Carrie Chapman Catt, and Boston-born Radcliffe College alumna Maud Wood Park— were memorialized at the event. Polk helped to unveil a panel that focused on Wells.
During the ceremony, Women’s Legislative Caucus co-chairs Rep. Pat Haddad and Sen. Joan Lovely joined leaders from the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts, the City of Boston’s office of Women’s Advancement, and the Massachusetts Voter to discuss the importance of reducing barriers to civic participation and the need to increase the number of elected women.
“We are up to 62 women in the Legislature now – it is a record. But I will tell you, over the hundreds of years of the Massachusetts Legislature, there have been over 20,000 men and 219 women,” said Sen. Lovely. “We need to grow these ranks and that’s what we are focusing on, which is why it’s so appropriate to be here today to talk about votes for women.”
Sen. Haddad added: “There are people who are still pushing back on making voting easy and still pushing back on women’s rights. So we have to suffer as much as our sisters during the early 1900s – we have to make sure that we are always there when it’s about voting, when it’s about raising women up, and when it’s about talking to our sons about how important their support and our belief in us is. We have a lot of work to do.”