An Eye on Suffragists in St. LouisMay 21, 2009
As many of you know, the 2009 AAUW National Convention have a unique twist: special events that focus on the great suffragists of St. Louis. St. Louis is chock full of rich history and steeped in suffrage lore. I have to say that, until recently, I was not too knowledgeable on the suffrage movement, and I certainly did not know about the interesting history of St. Louis, Missouri.
For example, did you know the Renaissance St. Louis Grand and Suites Hotel, home of AAUW’s national convention, was also the home of the National American Suffrage Association’s jubilee convention, where the League of Women Voters was established in 1919? Back then, the Renaissance was known as the Hotel Statler. Now, 90 years later, AAUW will proudly hold its own convention at this same historic hotel.
The Renaissance Hotel’s Grand Lobby also boasts its own piece of American history, with another groundbreaking movement in our fight for equality. The Grand Lobby bar, where AAUW will hold its Suffragist Salute! celebration on Saturday night, was the first bar in Missouri to permit women to drink alcohol and smoke. AAUW’s Suffragist Salute! is an excellent, one-of-a-kind chance to salute (and dress up as!) those strong women who came before us.
Also, the St. Louis area is filled with bits of suffrage history — history you will see on the St. Louis Suffrage Tour. This tour will take you and your AAUW colleagues on a special journey. It includes visits to significant spots such as the Old Courthouse, where Virginia Minor filed suit against the state of Missouri because she was not allowed to register to vote. Virginia Minor lost her case in 1875 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, unanimously, in favor of the state of Missouri because the U.S. Constitution did not “confer the right of suffrage upon any one.”
These upcoming convention events have led me to think more about past women who, from all over the United States, have experienced injustice and fought against it. I am really looking forward to being at convention in St. Louis and being a part of these commemorative events. What interesting pieces of suffrage history would you like to share and learn?