Please join Preserve the 'Burg for this special presentation by Peggy Macdonald and Stephanie Owens as we celebrate the centennial of women's suffrage.
When it comes to women's suffrage in Florida, St. Pete has an exceptional story to tell. Did you know we had on our City Council the first woman commissioner south of the Mason Dixon Line? Virginia Burnside was elected to the St. Pete City Council in July 1920, almost two months before the 19th Amendment was ratified. The 1914 Burnside residence at 136 5th Avenue North was originally owned by Virginia and John Burnside, and in 2017 was granted landmark status by the City Council.
In "Florida Women's Fight for Suffrage," Dr. Peggy Macdonald traces Florida's suffrage movement from its inception with Ella Chamberlain in 1892, to August 27, 1920, when Fay Gibson Moulton Bridges cast her ballot on the porch of a Jackson County dry goods store, becoming the first Florida woman to vote after the 19th Amendment went into effect. Former Florida First Lady May Mann Jennings, who convinced the Florida Federation of Women's Clubs to support the campaign for equal suffrage as their president in 1915, also co-founded the Florida chapter of the League of Women Voters. In Jim Crow Florida, African American women were excluded from local and state equal suffrage organizations. However, Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune helped black men and women exercise their right to vote by offering classes designed to help students pass the literacy test and by fundraising for a poll tax fund.
Peggy will be joined by Stephanie Owens, who has spent over 20 years in public service, as an appointee of both President Barack Obama and President Bill Clinton. She held senior official positions in the White House, the Departments of Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Commerce, and the Environmental Protection Agency. Stephanie’s decades of experience with voter protection, inclusion and equity, and social justice will invite us to think about how we can use the lessons of the past to guide our future.
Peggy Macdonald is adjunct professor of history at Stetson University in DeLand. She is a speaker with the Florida Humanities Florida Talks program and writes about Florida history for Gainesville Magazine, Our Town Magazine, Senior Times and FORUM Magazine. She earned a doctorate in American history at the University of Florida.