Having our “Say”

We all know that as women we like to have our “say.” At least I know I do. That’s why, as we are about to open our exhibition on women’s suffrage, I asked a number of my friends and colleagues what it means to them to have the right to vote. “Everything,” says Taryn Duffy, Director of Public Affairs at Empire City Casino. She says further, “My vote is my voice. I use it at every opportunity and implore women across the country and the globe to do the same.” Dee Delbello, Publisher at Westfair Communications, seems to high five that view: “It means that I can have my say, without anyone looking over my shoulders, with the hope that someone’s listening.” Liz Bracken-Thompson, Partner at Thompson & Bender Public Relations, takes it a step further: “Women’s right to vote is our power and our voice that speaks out through our elected officials to ensure the best future for our mothers, sisters, daughters and granddaughters at every stage of their lives.”

Artwork is part of Laurel Garcia-Colvin’s “Give Us The Vote” installation

One of those elected officials, Westchester Legislator Margaret A. Cunzio, believes it’s a legacy. “My great-grandmother was on the frontlines fighting for the right to vote. I have not missed a vote in an election since I was eligible to vote. It means a lot to me to know that I am continuing the legacy that my relatives were a part of.” Dr. LaRuth Gray, Scholar-in-Residence at the Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity, takes the dialogue a bit deeper. She says: “The bedrock of freedom in a democratic society is the participation of its citizens in its affairs. There is no more fundamental execution of that than a citizen’s right to vote.” To that point, Dr. Belinda S. Miles, President of SUNY Westchester Community College, had this to say: “We shape our society through our vote, and the presence or absence of voices in the democratic process has a profound effect on all our lives. The need for heightened awareness on the right to vote and raising the level of participation in elections by women and all eligible voters is ever present as is a call to action for ongoing outreach and voter education throughout our community.” That is why, when ArtsWestchester had the opportunity to do an exhibition celebrating the 19th Amendment, we thought it was also important to highlight some of the many barriers to voting rights that still exist. “Give Us the Vote” opens on October 10 and remains on view through January 27. I hope you’ll join us for a preview reception on October 7. If you have something to say about women’s right to vote, please say it here and now.