FORT MYERS, Fla. (Jan. 17, 2020) – Southwest Florida civic groups and the Fort Myers Mayor’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee (MDIAC) announce the launch of “Celebrate Women 2020.” The year-long observance, inspired by the 100th anniversary of the women’s suffrage movement and the ratification of the 19th Amendment, serves as an example of the dedication of U.S. citizens to ensure that all people are represented in what founding father George Washington called “the last great experiment for promoting human happiness.” Events are planned each month to honor the courageous women – and men – who struggled for women’s right to vote.
In addition to the Fort Myers Mayor’s Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee’s Community Engagement and Education Pillar, the various community partners represented include Vision 2020; Fort Myers Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta, Sorority, Inc.; Progressive Women of SWFL, Inc.; League of Women Voters Lee County; League of Women Voters Sanibel; and Junior League of Fort Myers.
The League of Women Voters are direct decedents of suffragettes founded in the merger of the National Council of Women Voters through Emma Smith DeVoe and the National American Woman Suffrage Association through Carrie Chapman Catt. The little-known history of black suffragists is represented by Delta Sigma Theta Sorority whose founders were black suffragettes marching in the national women’s parade of 1913.
The individual planners representing these organizations are led by Kathy Dupuy-Bruno (MDIAC’s Chair of the Community Engagement and Education Pillar and President of the Fort Myers Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority). Others include Sunny Lubner (MDIAC member) Nadege Pierre (MDIAC member), Patricia Sala (League of Women Voters Lee County), Clara Anne Graham (President of League of Women Voters Lee County), Karen Nathan (Founder and Co-Chair of Progressive Women of SWFL), Tabbatha Carter (Delta Sigma Theta Sorority), Audrea Anderson (Progressive Women of SWFL), Gerri Ware (Delta Sigma Theta Sorority), Maddie Stuart (Vision 2020), Nori Ann Reed (Vision 2020), Marti Derow (Junior League of Fort Myers), Robyn Cook (League of Women Voters Sanibel), and Ashley Graham (Junior League of Fort Myers). The coalition is also joined by Florida Gulf Coast University and Keiser University.
“Celebrate Women 2020” will participate in the citywide Martin Luther King Day celebration march presented by the Dunbar Festival Committee on Monday, January 20, 2020. All are welcome to march and celebrate at Centennial Park in Fort Myers from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Marchers will gather near the corner of Blount and High Street and proceed down Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard into Centennial Park. Celebrate Women 2020 partners will be wearing sashes to recognize the efforts of the suffragists.
On Tuesday, January 21, Vision 2020 and Zonta of Sanibel-Captiva will hold Luna Fest at 7:30 p.m. at the Sanibel Community House, 2173 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, FL. A traveling film festival, Luna Fest celebrates and raises money locally, through the sale of popcorn and beverages, for films by and about women. More information about this free event can be found at lunafest.org or calling 239-395-5834.
On Saturday, February 1, League of Women Voters-Lee County will host an event with guest speaker Patricia Brigham, President of Florida League of Women Voters, discussing the 100th Anniversary of the League. For more information please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 248-444-4454.
National President of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Beverly E Smith will be the speaker for the DST Founder’s Day luncheon on Saturday, February 8 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, located at 13051 Bell Tower Drive, Fort Myers. Among other topics, Smith will talk about the unique history of the black suffragettes, many of them among the sorority’s founding members, and “Celebrate Women 2020”. This celebration is planned by the community partner, the Fort Myers Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. For more information please email email@example.com or call 239-337-1460.
This year’s Edison Festival of Light Grand Parade will be another occasion for our partners to march and wear their suffragette sashes as part of Celebrate Women 2020. The Grand Parade takes place on February 15 in downtown Fort Myers. Additional information can be found at edisonfestival.org.
Various events are taking place each month through August 2020, including educational outreach about the importance of voting, women’s history, and Census 2020. Among them will be a presentation by Elaine Weiss, author of “The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote,” and “Voices of Women’s Suffrage,” a program by the League of Women Voters Sanibel. In addition, look for presentations by the City of Fort Myers Complete Count Committee regarding Census 2020.
In August, citywide celebrations will take place, including “A Toast to Tenacity,” a program commemorating the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage with Vision 2020, along with the League of Women Voters, the Progressive Women of Southwest Florida and the Fort Myers Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
While Celebrate Women 2020 was created to honor past and present female citizens, its greater purpose is to recognize the efforts of women as inspiration for shaping a future with equal rights for all.