Marshall University will present women’s historian and author Dr. Marjorie J. Spruill, distinguished professor emerita of history from the University of South Carolina, in its first Amicus Curiae Lecture Series event of the spring semester. The lecture, "One Woman, One Vote: The Long Road to Ratification of the 19th Amendment," will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 21, in Brad D. Smith Foundation Hall and will kick off several activities that Marshall has planned as part of its commemoration of the Nineteenth Amendment’s centennial celebration.
The event is free and open to the public.
Spruill will discuss how, after decades of struggle, the woman suffrage movement – an offshoot of the antislavery movement — made progress persuading states to enfranchise women. She will explore how full enfranchisement ultimately depended on securing an amendment to the U.S. Constitution, a deliberately difficult process that involved approval of two-thirds of each house of Congress and three-fourths of the states.
According to Spruill, amendments regarded as radical or unpopular in any part of the nation were all but destined to fail, making the story of how women won the vote in the United States a long and complicated one involving hard work, ingenuity and sheer perseverance to overcome racial, regional and generational tensions. Her discussion shines a light on a small group of women considered to be radicals who managed to gain the strong, widespread support necessary to overcome the obstacles deliberately placed in the amendment’s path.
Spruill is the author or editor of six books on woman suffrage, including One Woman, One Vote: Rediscovering the Woman Suffrage Movement, the companion volume to the PBS documentary "One Woman, One Vote." Her other works on woman suffrage include New Women of the New South: The Leaders of the Woman Suffrage Movement in the Southern States and several edited volumes including VOTES FOR WOMEN! The Woman Suffrage Movement in Tennessee, the South, and the Nation. Spruill’s most recent book is Divided We Stand: The Battle Over Women’s Rights and Family Values That Polarized American Politics.
"I am proud that Marjorie Spruill is participating in the lecture series and excited to welcome her to Huntington," said Patricia Proctor, director of the Simon Perry Center for Constitutional Democracy, which sponsors the Amicus Curiae Lecture Series. "I first learned of her when I studied her work in college. She is a recognized authority on this inspiring part of our nation’s history. I am looking forward to a dynamic and entertaining presentation that will give perspective to those focusing on this issue for the first time and will enrich the knowledge of those already interested."
Marshall has several other activities planned to recognize the 100th anniversary of the passing of the 19th Amendment, including lectures, a special topics history class, a Women’s Suffrage March on Women’s Equality Day, a voter registration campaign and much more.