By Beth Lawrence
The Jackson County Board of Commissioners voted Tuesday to declare 2020 a year of celebration in recognition of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment.
Commissioner Gayle Woody read a proclamation from the board, setting the year aside as a celebration of women gaining the right to vote.
The 19th Amendment was ratified on Aug. 18, 1920. Women had sought suffrage for nearly a century. They fought in their homes and at the grassroots level for the right to have a say in their personal autonomy, elected representation and the laws that governed them.
The fight went nationwide after the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848. The convention was organized by suffrage leaders Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott.
The proclamation estimates the number of women in Jackson County at 22,010 and applauded the contributions of women to the county and the country.
Woody bestowed copies of the proclamation on several women from the community including Ann McKee, a relative of Gertrude Dills McKee, the first woman elected to the state Senate.
Woody also awarded a copy to Vangie Stephens, who said the moment was both happy and bittersweet because Native Americans did not gain citizenship until 1924 and the right to vote in all states until 1962.
Woody also recognized Luisa and Annie McMahan, the wife and daughter of Chairman Brian McMahan. Luisa became a U.S. citizen two years ago and is looking forward to her first presidential election in 2020.
Woody teared up when presenting the proclamation to Annie McMahan.
Young women like her are the country’s future, Woody said.