Woman Suffrage: The Ballot and Beyond

     The International Storytelling Center (ISC) will host the annual National Youth Summit on May 21 from 9:30am – 3pm EDT, in partnership with the National Museum of American History and Smithsonian Affiliate museums, to mark the 100th anniversary of the passing of House of Representatives’ resolution in support of the 19th Amendment for woman suffrage. This year’s webcast, “Woman Suffrage: The Ballot and Beyond,” will be live streamed to allow middle and high school students across the county to examine the woman suffrage movement and its effects on woman-led activism today. ISC is one of 11 Smithsonian Affiliate organizations across the country coordinating regional youth summits with local activists, scholars, and youth.

     Suffrage was a long-lasting effort that has influenced American perspectives on woman-led activism, democracy, and civic life today. The 2019 National Youth Summit will mark this centennial anniversary by looking at woman suffrage as an example of how groups with limited political power have overcome social obstacles to shape our democracy. Their contributions continue to inspire Americans to exercise their ability and right to make change.      

      “Tennessee played a crucial role in the suffrage movement. It’s an honor for ISC to give women the stage to share those stories and engage in conversation with students across the region. That’s the power of stories—they connect our future to our past in the present.” said ISC Communications Coordinator Rachel Stiltner.

      Since the program was launched in 2011, the National Youth Summit has engaged over 60,000 live viewers and many more through viewings of archived programs. This year, students participating in the National Youth Summit webcast will converse with a panel of scholars, activists, and experts who will discuss changes in activism over time, power dynamics, and democracy. These panelists include Dolores Huerta, American labor leader and civil rights activist, and Page Harrington, a public historian and former Executive Director of the National Woman’s Party at the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument. Professor and scholar Caty Borum Chattoo will bring her expertise to the stage from the American University School of Communications’ Center for Media and Social Impact. Finally, 12-year-old gun violence and social activist Naomi Wadler will share her fresh perspective on women’s activism in America today.

      Locally, ISC programming will include a mock suffrage rally, a presentation from the Suffrage Coalition and the Knoxville League of Women’s Voters, a theatrical performance of Things Are Changing, written by local playwright Anne G’Fellers Mason, and a Smithsonian Institute poster exhibit. Participants in the regional summit will have the opportunity to connect with young people from across the U.S. and participate in the conversation via the webcast’s online chat feature.  The ISC event will also include a panel of local women, including Washington County Commissioner and ETSU Professor of Psychology Dr. Jodi Jones; Kate Craig, Chair of the Washington County Democratic Party and organizer of the local Women’s March Johnson City; Marat Moore, an award-winning writer, activist, and former coal miner; Johnson City School Board member Michelle Treece; and Rachel Moore, a Science Hill High School student, board member, and youth ambassador for the Langston Education and Arts Development. The panel will be moderated by Dr. Rebecca Keeler, a retired lawyer and professor of constitutional law and public administration

      The National Youth Summit was designed by the National Museum of American History to give students an opportunity to share their views and debate issues as part of a program that aligns with the National History Standards and Common Core Standards for Speaking and Listening. At the National Museum of American History, some 200 Washington public school students will have the chance to interact with the panelists.

      At Smithsonian Affiliate museums, approximately 500 students are projected to participate in events and watch the panel’s livestream. More than 4,000 students are signed up to watch from their classrooms across the country and contribute to the conversation with the live online chat feature. Teachers may register a classroom for the webcast or access free, supplementary education materials for all ages at http://americanhistory.si.edu/nys.

                The International Storytelling Center has limited seating, reserved for middle and high school students, available on a first come, first serve basis. The event is free and includes lunch. If interested, please contact Registration Coordinator Marianne Huff at (423)753-2171, ext. 283.