League of Women Voters celebrates anniversary

Alice Paul, c. 1900; Photocredit: Courtesy of the Alice Paul Institute, www.alicepaul.org.

The League of Women Voters-Princeton Area is holding an event to celebrate its 80th Anniversary with a performance portraying Alice Paul, a key leader of the movement that secured the right to vote for women in the United States. This right to vote was ratified as the 19th Amendment to the Constitution in 1920.  Paul also wrote and worked for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), which was first introduced in Congress in 1923.  The event will be held on Monday, Oct. 15, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. in Channing Hall of the Unitarian Universalist Church.

The event will feature Taylor Williams, a member of the American Historical Theatre. Williams, performing as Alice Paul,  will tell the inspiring story of how Paul courageously fought for the women’s right to vote.  Alice Paul was born into a Quaker family in New Jersey.  Blunt-speaking. no-nonsense, and highly educated, she earned a BA in Biology from Swarthmore College, and studied social work at the New York School of Philanthropy (now the Columbia University Graduate School of Social Work) and the University of Birmingham.  At the London School of Economics she received a MA in sociology and then a PhD in economics from the University of Pennsylvania.  Inspired by Britain’s Christabel Pankhurst to speak out for the women’s right to vote, Ms. Paul joined the fight for suffrage in Great Britain, and returned home to work with the National American Woman Suffrage Association.

When the 19th Amendment passed in 1920, Alice Paul turned to developing an Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). In 1972 the ERA finally was passed both houses of Congress and went to the state legislatures for ratification. Ratification came close but fell short, with 35 ratifying of the required 38. And before the deadline, four states also rescinded their ratifications and a fifth deadlined their ratification for the end of the ratification period.  The ERA has been introduced to Congress every session since 1982, but has never gotten out of committee. However, almost half of the states individually have adopted the ERA into their state constitutions.

The American Historical Theatre provides historical characters and interpretations throughout all 50 states and Europe, including portrayals of over 100 characters.  Taylor Williams, who will be performing as Alice Paul, has a BS in Education and MA in both Writing and Editing, both from Penn State University, and a MA in Theater Arts from Villanova University.  Her theater career has included performing in regional theaters from an early age. For many years, Taylor taught classical acting classes at the Walnut Street Theater, and regularly teaches a course on theatre skills for lawyers for the Pennsylvania Bar Institute. She is also a practicing attorney, and holds a JD from Temple University.  With over 30 years of experience she heads the litigation unit for Pennsylvania’s Unified Judiciary, representing Pennsylvania’s justices, judges and court systems, predominately in constitutional cases. She has been performing as Alice Paul since the 1980s when she co-created a program about Alice Paul for the Smithsonian Institution.

The League of Women Voters (LWV) was founded in 1920 as a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization whose purpose is to promote political responsibility and safeguard democracy through informed and active participation in government.  It was founded during the last meeting of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, six months before the 19th Amendment was fully ratified, to help newly enfranchised women to exercise their responsibilities as voters.  The Princeton chapter of the LWV was started in 1932. In 1973 the national charter was changed to allow men to become members. The LWV supports no candidates but it does take positions on many political issues after studying them and coming to a consensus position.

The LWV-Princeton Area also will be sponsoring a Candidates Forum in cooperation with Princeton Community TV and hosted by The Jewish Center for the candidates for mayor of the newly consolidated Princeton.  The Forum will be held on Thursday, Oct. 11 at 7:30 p.m. in The Jewish Center of Princeton, 435 Nassau Street.

The Unitarian Universalist Church is located at 50 Cherry Hill Road in Princeton.  Refreshments will be served.  The event is free. Plenty of parking. For further information, please email to lvwprinceton@gmail.com or go to www.lwvprinceton.org.