100th Anniversary of Women's Suffrage POWER, PRIVILEGE & THE VOTE: Focus on Women, Culture & Herstories of Suffrage (2020)


Women vote today because of the women’s suffrage movement, a courageous and persistent political campaign which lasted over 72 years, involved tens of thousands of women and men, and resulted in enfranchising one-half of the citizens of the United States. If the history of the suffrage movement was better known, we would understand that democracy for the first 150 years in America included only half of the population. And we would realize that this situation changed only after the enormous efforts of American citizens in what remains one of the most remarkable and successful nonviolent efforts to change ingrained social attitudes and institutions in the modern era. Women won the vote. They were not given it, granted it, or anything else that many textbooks claim.

However, this triumph came at a cost. By 1870 suffrage leaders were embittered that women had not been included when African American men gained the right to vote. Subsequently, to win suffrage for themselves, they engaged in a strategy based upon racist ideologies that incited racial animosity. They were complicit in ostracizing and marginalizing African American suffragists who had worked with them on the forefront of the struggle to secure voting rights since the 1800s. 
While the 19th Amendment legally gave all women the right to vote, the Constitution left the details of voting to individual states rather than the federal government. To discourage people of color from voting, many states began adding restrictive laws and discriminatory policies.
Native Americans and Asian Americans were disenfranchised by denial of citizenship. It wasn’t until 1962 that all states extended suffrage to Native Americans. As immigrants, Asian Americans were prohibited from becoming U.S. citizens for decades until 1952. These groups also experienced the same voter suppression challenges at the ballot box to keep them from voting.
Finally, in 1965, the federal Voting Rights Act (VRA) prohibited any election practice that denied the right to vote on account of race and permanently removed all barriers to voting for everyone.

Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) is partnering up with the Center for Cultural Pluralism to bring Dr. Sally Roesch Wagner to UVM! To learn more about WILPF please visit their website

Please join us for the conversation about suffrage and voting as an important topic in relationship to the UVM Common Ground values and during this election year!

Guest Speakers

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Sally Roesch Wagner

Feminist pioneer Dr. Sally Roesch Wagner is a nationally recognized lecturer, author and story-teller of women’s rights history. One of the first women to receive a doctorate in the United States for work in women’s studies (UC Santa Cruz), and a founder of one of the country’s first college women’s studies programs, (CSU Sacramento). Dr. Wagner has taught women’s history for forty-eight years. She currently serves as adjunct faculty in the University Honors Program, Syracuse University and St. John Fisher’s Executive Leadership Program.

Wagner appeared as a “talking head” in Ken Burns’ documentary, “Not for Ourselves Alone: The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony” for which she wrote the accompanying faculty guide for PBS. She was also an historian in films including PBS’s “One Woman, One Vote” and Jak Films “The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones”. Her radio interviews include BBC and NPR’s All Things Considered” and “Democracy Now.”

The theme of Dr. Wagner’s work has been telling the untold stories. Her Women’s Suffrage Anthology, published by Penguin Classics in February 2019 and co-edited with Gloria Steinem, unfolds a new intersectional look at the 19th century woman’s rights movement. She Who Holds the Sky: Matilda Joslyn Gage (Sky Carrier Press, 2003) reveals a suffragist written out of history because of her stand against the religious right over 100 years ago while Wagner’s Sisters in Spirit: Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Influence on Early American Feminists (Native Voices, 2001) documents the surprisingly unrecognized authority of native women, which inspired the suffrage movement.

Resent Publication: Wagner, S. (2019). The Women's Suffrage Movement. Publisher: Penguin Classics.

Singer-Historian: Linda Radtke


Singer and historian Linda Radtke will open and close our programs with music which was essential to the movement: each state convention of suffragists began and ended with songs.  Linda  was a Vermont high school teacher for thirty-one years and now produces the VPR Choral Hour on Vermont Public Radio. A classically trained singer, Linda is a member of Vermont’s professional vocal ensemble, Counterpoint, the Oriana Singers, and the Arioso Chamber Ensemble. She also sings with a vocal quartet, Ah!Capella, sponsored by the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, which brings music to Vermont schools.

Program Recording and Details

Watch the video from the event

This program was supported by the Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion & partially funded by the Gender, Sexuality, & Women’s Studies program at UVM, WILPF US Section, The League of Women Voters of Vermont, Vermont Suffrage Centennial Alliance, Vermont Humanities Council, Anne Slade Frey Charitable Trust, Vermont Federal Credit Union, Walter Cerf Fund of the Vermont Community Foundation, Northfield Savings Bank, St. Michael’s College, and Community Colleges of Vermont.

Dr. Sally Roesch Wagner will speak on Women’s Suffrage with a focus on 3 themes:

• Indigenous people (Haudenosaunee women) influence on the ideas of women’s suffrage & rights.
• Who was not included in the US suffrage movement (Focus on Black Women)? 
• How can the stories of the women’s suffrage provide a lens through which to explore the ongoing creation of democracy in our country?

Suffragists’ Songs performed by Linda Radtke, singer-historian, the host of the VPR Choral Hour.

Resources on Suffrage and Voting 

Groundworks Series (2020)

COVID and the “Isms”: Applying a Social Justice Lens to COVID-19

COVID-19 and the pandemic that has followed has shined a light on many social issues that have been longstanding issues. This workshop will quickly introduce the relationship between COVID-19 and racism, classism, and ableism. 

Attendees will:

  • Identify major social issues and systemic problems and their relationship to COVID-19
  • Explore what they can do as individuals to raise awareness and take action around these issues

Intended Audience: All Employees

Platform: Microsoft Teams

Instructor: Christa Hagan-Howe

When the Classroom, Meeting, or Training Gets Odd: Preparing for Dialogues

Session suggests proactive measures and constructs for balancing the overall group dynamic challenges related to issues of culture and social justice.

Attendees will:

  • Explore conversation dynamic factors
  • Discuss some frameworks for setting a positive environment
  • Explore two models of learning styles that impact students/attendees’ responses to content
  • Address participants application questions

Intended Audience: All Employees, Min:6  Max: 18

Platform: Microsoft Teams

Instructor: Sherwood Smith

Classism in Higher Education

In this asynchronous, discussion-based class, attendees will explore issues of social class and classism in higher education. This course will take place over one work-week, allowing participants to access the materials and conversations with their colleagues on their schedules. Participants can anticipate spending 2 hours on this training between materials and online discussion forums.

Attendees will:

  • Define and explain social class and classism
  • Explore where classism might show up on their campuses or workplaces
  • Create a toolkit to allow them to do a social class based audit of their communications, policies, and systems

Intended Audience: All Employees, Min: 10, Max: 40

Platform: Microsoft Teams Class

Instructor: Christa Hagan-Howe

The Importance of Eleanor Roosevelt to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Critical Reflections (2019)


Agent of change, humanitarian, social justice activist, Eleanor Roosevelt is one of the most influential women in the US history, widow of US President Franklin D. Roosevelt.  Come to this event to understand a controversial First Lady for her outspokenness, particularly on civil rights for African-Americans, social activism and her role as a first woman US delegate to the United Nations General Assembly.  As the Chair of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights  drafting committee, she was key to this international document stating basic rights and fundamental freedoms to which all human beings are entitled.

Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) is partnering up with the Center for Cultural Pluralism to bring Dr. Blanche Wiesen Cook to UVM!

Learn more about WILPF

Keynote Speaker: Blanche Wiesen Cook

Blanche Wiesen Cook is Distinguished Professor of History and Women's Studies at the John Jay College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Her definitive biography of Eleanor Roosevelt, Vol I The Early Years 1884 - 1933; Vol II The Defining Years 1933- 1938; Vol III The War Years and After, published by Viking, was called “monumental and inspirational...[a] grand biography” by the New York Times Book Review.


Eleanor Roosevelt Volume One, on the NY Times bestseller list for 3 months, received many awards, including the 1992 Biography Prize from the Los Angeles Times, and the Lambda Literary Award. Eleanor Roosevelt Volume Two was on the NY Times bestseller list. Eleanor Roosevelt Volume Three was named a New York Times notable book of 2016 and one of NPR’s 10 Best Books of 2016. The trilogy is available in Penguin Paperback and on e-book.

The author of numerous articles, Professor Cook’s books include The Declassified Eisenhower (Doubleday/Penguin), a New York Times Book Review notable book of 1981 and Crystal Eastman On Women & Revolution (Oxford University Press). For more than twenty years, she produced and hosted her own program for Radio Pacifica, originally called Activists and Agitators, and Women and the World in the 1980s. Professor Cook has appeared frequently on television, on such programs as The Today Show, Good Morning America, CSpan's Booknotes, and MacNeil/Lehrer, where she participated in the joint PBS-NBC coverage of the 1992 Democratic National Convention.

Professor Cook served as Vice-President for Research of the American Historical Association, and Vice-President and Chair of the Fund for Open Information and Accountability (FOIA, Inc.) She was Co-Founder and Co-Chair of the Freedom of Information and Access Committee of the Organization of American Historians, which was actively committed to maintaining the integrity of the Freedom of Information Act.