The Fight Continues: Oregonians Commemorate and Complicate Voting Rights History

November 3, 2020

By Isa Ruelas

This chalk drawing of the text of the 19th Amendment was created by social activist Nancy Hiss as part of the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education's 19th Amendment celebration.

Today, Tuesday, November 3, is the last day in Oregon and around the United States to cast votes in the 2020 general election. Like the suffragists before us, we should use this moment to get engaged, encourage voting, and continue using activism to shape our communities now and after the election. The Oregon Historical Society (OHS) and the Oregon Women’s History Consortium (OWHC) initially created the #ChalkTheVoteOR campaign to commemorate and complicate the 19th Amendment, but as the year unfolded, the project expanded to encompass other legislation that has expanded the franchise to different demographics, including the Voting Rights Act and the 15th, 24th, and 26th Amendments.

The history of our nation’s complicated and racialized commitment to voting rights, which is intertwined with the idea of who is allowed full citizenship and participation in a democracy, brings us to today in 2020 — an era of voter suppression. Voter suppression first emerged unapologetically and blatantly in state constitutions. In Oregon, delegates to the Oregon State Constitutional Convention in 1857 determined that the vote would be for white male citizens only, explicitly stating: “No Negro, Chinaman, or Mulatto shall have the right of suffrage.”

The struggle for universal suffrage cuts across different movements, activists, and time periods, and continues into today. For this project, our goal was straightforward: for education around voting rights to serve as an antidote to the cynicism of today and for the enfranchised to see voting as a part of our individual matrix of power.

If you missed any of the activities in our #ChalkTheVoteOR campaign, please follow the links below to learn how voting rights intersect, currently and historically, with protest, activism, and civil rights.

Blog Post 1: ChalkTheVoteOR: Understanding History to Envision Tomorrow
Blog Post 2: Shared Memories, Protests, and Signs of Resistance: Voting Rights Activities for Families
Blog Post 3: Hear, See, and Taste Voting Rights History

Please enjoy this slideshow of community-submitted images from suffrage history activities that took place throughout Oregon!

Chalk drawing, Voting Rights Act of 1965, photo courtesy of Gina Gutierrez.

Chalk drawing outside of the Oregon Historical Society of a protest flag with the text of the Voting Rights Act (1965). Courtesy of Gina Gutierrez.

Vote with pride chalk drawing, photo courtesy of Gina Gutierrez.

Vote with pride chalk drawing, photo courtesy of Gina Gutierrez.

Chalking outside the First Congregational United Church of Christ, Portland, Oregon, photo courtesy of Oregon Women’s History Consortium

On July 1, 1905, Portland hosted the 37th annual National American Woman Suffrage Association Conference at the First Congregational United Church of Christ. Abigail Scott Duniway was joined by Susan B. Anthony and hundreds of suffragists from across the country who attended the week-long convention. In September 2020, Stephanie and Louisa Vallance chalk outside of the First Congregational United Church of Christ, Portland, Oregon. Courtesy of Oregon Women’s History Consortium.

Chalk drawing by Erin Schmith, photo courtesy of Isa Ruelas.

Chalk drawing by Erin Schmith in front of the First Congregational United Church of Christ, Portland, Oregon. Courtesy of Isa Ruelas.

Anonymous, First Congregational United Church of Christ, Portland, Oregon, photo courtesy of Isa Ruelas

Anonymous drawing in front of the First Congregational United Church of Christ, Portland, Oregon. Courtesy of Isa Ruelas.

Patricia Schechter and Jan Dilg chalk outside AC Hotel, Portland, Oregon, photo courtesy of Oregon Women’s History Consortium.

On November 8, 1872, Mary Beatty, an African American woman who lived in Oregon, joined Abigail Scott Duniway, Maria Hendee, and Mrs. M.A. Lambert in their attempt to vote underneath the 14th Amendment at the B.F. Smith Lime Warehouse, the Morrison Precinct, which was located in the offices of the warehouse. Along with activists across the country, these four women brought attention to the campaign for women’s voting rights — known as “woman suffrage.” The AC Hotel Portland now stands at this location on the corner of SW Third and Taylor streets. Here, Patricia Schechter (left) and Jan Dilg (right) pose outside of the AC Hotel, Portland, Oregon. Courtesy of Oregon Women’s History Consortium.

Say Her Name, Sojourner Truth, chalk drawing, AC Hotel, Portland, photo courtesy of Oregon Women’s History Consortium.

Say Her Name, Sojourner Truth, chalk drawing, AC Hotel, Portland, photo courtesy of Oregon Women’s History Consortium.

Liesel Svedlund chalk drawing, AC Hotel, Portland, photo courtesy of Oregon Women’s History Consortium.

Liesel Svedlund chalked about the 19th Amendment outside the AC Hotel in Portland, Oregon. Courtesy of Oregon Women’s History Consortium.

Resa la Revv dressed as a suffragist, photo courtesy of Resa la Revv

Resa la Revv is a local Portland performer at BodyVox. She is dressed as a suffragist for a performance commemorating the 19th Amendment called NINETEEN*TWENTY. Courtesy of Resa la Revv. You can still catch the performance at the BodyVox Dance Center in December 2020!

Cecelia “Cece” Otto, Oswego Heritage Council performance, photo courtesy of Cece Otto.

During this year’s centennial of the passage of the 19th Amendment guaranteeing most women the right to vote, singer, historian, and author Cecelia Otto commemorates the anniversary with an all-new concert program of songs from the era, Centennial of Suffrage. Cece explains: “I spent years doing research to create this program for this year and beyond, and I was touched by everything I read. On a personal level, I wanted to share their stories and songs with people during this historic year, and I never thought in my wildest dreams that people all over the world would be enjoying the music.” To hear some of her full-length suffrage songs, visit https://www.youtube.com/user/AmericanSongline/. Photo courtesy of Cece Otto.

Friends of Historic Forest Grove, photo courtesy of Cherie Savoie Tintary.

Group photo of Friends of Historic Forest Grove #ChalkTheVoteOR event. From left to right: Megan Havens, Eldena Vanderzanden, Mary Jo Morelli, Cherie Savoie Tintary, Kay Demlow, and Frances King. Courtesy of Cherie Savoie Tintary.

Chalking in Clatsop County, photo courtesy of the Clatsop County Historical Society.

Clatsop County Historical Society, along with the Oregon Black Pioneers and AVA, celebrated the right to vote and the many fights that went in to securing this right through the #ChalkTheVoteOR campaign. Chalking was done along the sidewalks of Duane Street in Astoria and was encouraged at the addresses of buildings that were used to host pro-suffrage meetings (none of the physical buildings are still standing): WCTU Hall, First Baptist Church, and Norwegian and Danish M.E. Church. Courtesy of the Clatsop County Historical Society.

Clara “Callie” Munson, photo courtesy of the Clatsop County Historical Society.

Warrenton was the first city in Oregon to elect a woman as mayor after many women won the right to vote in Oregon with the passage of the 19th Amendment. A little more than a month later, voters in Warrenton chose Clara “Callie” Munson as their new mayor over her male rival by a margin of 16 votes, making her the first woman to hold elected office in Oregon following the passage of the Equal Suffrage Amendment the previous month. Courtesy of the Clatsop County Historical Society.

Astoria suffrage event highlighting Emma C. Watson, photo courtesy of Oregon Black Pioneers.

This event in downtown Astoria highlighted suffragist Emma C. Warren, who became the first woman elected to be superintendent of schools in the county from 1905 to 1912, despite laws barring her from holding the position, photograph courtesy of Oregon Black Pioneers.

Chalk drawing of Black Oregon suffragists, photo courtesy of the Oregon Black Pioneers.

A chalk drawing with the names of four prominent Black Oregon suffragists: Lizzie Weeks, Hattie Redmond, Mary L. Beaty, and Edith Gray. Courtesy of the Oregon Black Pioneers.

Who could vote after 19th Amendment, photo courtesy of the Oregon Black Pioneers.

Not all Oregon women won the vote with the passage of the 19th Amendment. This chalk drawing depicts the relationship between race and ethnicity and a woman’s ability to vote. Many states did not consider Native Americans and Chinese Americans citizens, which prevented many of them from being able to cast a ballot. Black women, like Black men, were effectively disenfranchised through voter suppression tactics, but there is historical evidence that Black women were voting in Oregon. Courtesy of the Oregon Black Pioneers.

Chalk drawing and photo great-great aunt, Louise Mildred Quinn, photos courtesy of Cherie Savoie Tintary.

Cherie Savoie Tintary wrote: “I just found out about my [great-great aunt] this year, because I did a DNA test & her descendant messaged me. Her name was Louise Mildred Quinn (she was married to William Mohr who I’m related to but he died young), then she remarried Charles Stark from Philadelphia.” Courtesy of Cherie Savoie Tintary.

Mary Faulkner’s family, photos courtesy of Mary Miller Faulkner.

OHS Board President, Mary Faulkner wrote: “Today’s [August 26, 2020,] centennial of the adoption of the 19th Amendment prompted a lovely, multigenerational exchange of information in our family. Mary (Mayme) Doyle, pictured on the left and on the left side of the photo in the middle, was the first woman on my mother’s (Rosemary Ottolini Miller) and uncle James Ottolini’s side of the family to cast a vote in the United States at the age of 38. One of her claims to fame was having seen five presidents in person: McKinley (on the day he was assassinated), Roosevelt, Taft, Harding, and Truman. Her granddaughter and great-granddaughters would go on to see seven more presidents in person. Our family has learned so much about the complicated history of voting rights through the Oregon Historical Society and the Oregon Women's History Consortium. Important year to learn about this journey and not take it for granted! #ChalkTheVoteOR

The third image is of Mary’s daughter, Charlotte Faulkner.

Chalking in Oregon City, photo courtesy of Oregon Women’s History Consortium.

Chalking in Oregon City by Karen Fong, Jenni Sprague, Alvalea Fong, Rory, and Lily, Oregon City. Courtesy of Oregon Women’s History Consortium.

No Poll Tax chalking, photo courtesy of Portland Jobs with Justice.

In 1966, in Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections, the U.S. Supreme Court would find that poll taxes in all state and local elections were prohibited under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. This case alongside the passage of the 24th Amendment, which outlawed poll taxes in federal elections, put an end to this Jim Crow era voter suppression tactic.

Elise Alexis’s “100 Years” chalk drawing, photo courtesy of Cherie Savoie Tintary.

Artist Elise Alex chalked this drawing during a Friends of Historic Forest Grove event. Photo courtesy of Cherie Savoie Tintary.

Vote Oregon chalk drawing and cat, photo courtesy of @catzeye_giza

You might catch this Bronze Egyptian Mau encouraging Oregonians to vote in Portland. Fun cat fact! Suffragists around the world began to use images of cats in their publications as they demanded their right to vote in response to anti-suffragists propaganda! Photos courtesy of @catzeye_giza. Follow them on Instagram!

Multnomah County elections staff chalk woman suffrage timeline, photo courtesy of Multnomah County Elections.

Multnomah County elections staff chalked out a brief timeline of Oregon woman suffrage and political representation outside the Multnomah County Duniway-Lovejoy Elections Building. The elections office was renamed and dedicated to Oregon suffragists Abigail Scott Duniway and Esther Pohl Lovejoy in 2016.

Suffrage display, photos courtesy of Cherie Savoie Tintary.

A highly visible tactic of suffragists was to mobilize large-scale suffrage parades. The Women’s Political Union organizes the first suffrage parade in New York City in 1910. This photo displays an ensemble of both local Oregon suffragists and national suffragists. Courtesy of Cherie Savoie Tintary.

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