canada africa partner reservation Arizona Capitol statue honors women’s right to vote

Arizona Capitol statue honors women’s right to vote



Frances Willard Munds stands tall among the statues and monuments on the east side of the Arizona Capitol.

Munds, a suffragist, leader of the fight to give women the right to vote, and the state’s first female senator, is now honored with a towering bronze statue.

This is the first time in nearly 50 years that a real woman has been commemorated at Wesley Bolin Plaza, according to Melanie Sturgeon, president of the Arizona Women’s History Alliance.

“We’ve finally broken the bronze ceiling!” Sturgeon declared during a dedication ceremony on a warm May morning.

While other memorials represent women as a group, this is the first woman to be singled out in the square for recognition for her achievements.

The Munds statue was years in the making, with fundraising and organizing efforts slowed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In some ways, the efforts to bring the statue to fruition parallel Munds’ efforts to win votes for women. There were setbacks and dry spells, but perseverance won the day, said Gloria Cuádraz. Her words about the struggle for women’s suffrage at the turn of the 20th century also seemed appropriate for the Munds monument. Cuádraz is a board member of the Women’s History Alliance.

Mary Melcher, a committee member who worked on the monument’s creation, documented Munds’ efforts during the dedication ceremony, which included some of Munds’ family members.

Munds led the suffragist movement and became the first female senator

Frances Willard was born in Franklin, California in 1866, but moved to Arizona, where she taught in rural schools in Yavapai County. She married John L. Munds, a cattle rancher and later sheriff of Yavapai County.

In the late 1990s she became interested in the suffragist movement. While raising three children, she joined efforts to secure the vote for women in what was then the territory of Arizona. Munds became president of the Women’s Suffrage Association in 1909, Melcher said, bringing with her a “less traditional view” of the role than her predecessors.

“She was frustrated with the traditional role of women,” Melcher said.

Reading from a 1903 writing by Munds, Melcher said: ‘So many noble women have been crushed by conventional wisdom and by their fear of doing something beyond their reach. They have eclipsed their superior intellect through abuse. this so-called fear of women, my blood boils when I think of the shame she faces if she dares to cross the line.

Munds emphasized equal treatment and struck an egalitarian theme in her calls to convince male politicians to give women the right to vote.

But attempts to pass a law through the territorial legislature failed. So did efforts to convince delegates to the 1910 state constitutional convention to include women’s voting rights in the constitution of what would soon become the 48th state.

So Munds changed tactics. She addressed the call for a vote directly to the people who could make this happen: men.

The 19th Amendment: The Arizona women who led the effort in the Legislature

To gain support, the suffragists formed clubs throughout Arizona. They talked wherever they could find an audience: homes, schools and opera houses, Cuádraz said, continuing the Munds’ story. They manned a booth at the state fair in the summer of 1912, braving the heat in heavy petticoats and restrictive corsets.

“These women persevered and their efforts paid off,” Cuádraz said.

On November 5, 1912, women’s right to vote was passed with 68% of the vote – all coming from men.

In the next election cycle, in 1914, voters elected Rachel Berry to the House of Representatives and Frances Willard Munds to the Senate. They were the first women to ever serve in those rooms.

Organizers were quick to note that not all women were given the right to vote.

The same ballot that contained the women’s suffrage initiative also contained a measure that meant only people who were U.S. citizens and could read English could vote. This did not happen until 1953 for all classes of women, as stated in the inscriptions on the base of the statue.

Artist Stephanie Hunter created the Munds statue and lived with it for years.

“I was quarantined in my living room with Frances,” the audience said at the dedication ceremony. “I feel like I’ve been pregnant with her for five years. It’s been a long pregnancy. I just hope you like my baby. .”

The statue shows Munds holding a flag in her right hand, symbolizing progress for the cause, Hunter said. In her left hand she holds the leaflet that the suffragists would distribute to promote the vote, outlining the reasons for voting ‘yes’. It included reasons such as ‘those who obey the laws should have a say in their making’, and ‘Remember this! Arizona women fought as hard as men to build the state.”

Hunter used her speech to encourage greater prominence of women in public monuments, as well as wider prominence of female sculptors.

Fontes emphasizes ‘how hard our ancestors fought for the elections’

Secretary of State Adrian Fontes, who delivered opening remarks, noted that while other states were ahead of Arizona in granting women the right to vote, Arizona was the first to do so through popular vote.

That took seven years for women to gain the right to vote nationally, thanks to the passage of the 19th Amendment.

Fontes praised the suffragists’ hard work in recruiting for their cause. Melcher echoed that praise in her remarks, saying women should draw inspiration from the efforts of their predecessors.

“These women I discussed made a lot of sacrifices to get votes,” she said. “As we have worked for the past six years to make this statue a reality, their perseverance has been a model for us. They didn’t want to give and they didn’t want to. We.

“Today, in May of an election year, it is important that all women remember how hard our ancestors fought for the elections. We must take our place in this democracy.”

Reach the reporter [email protected] or at 602-228-7566 and follow her on both Threads and X, the platform formerly known as Twitter @maryjpitzl.

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