This Saturday on Susanville’s Main Street drivers will see a different kind of protest march, an echo of a day gone by.
The route between Roop’s Fort on Weatherlow Street up to the courthouse on Lassen Street will be filled with suffragists and friends celebrating the centennial of women gaining the right to vote in California.
When the costume parade winds up on the lawn at the courthouse the festivities will include, in the words of event organizer Janet Corey, “Proclamations, significant remarks and general jubilation.”
The centennial celebration is not only to honor the suffragists who fought for the vote but also to encourage women and men to remember the struggle for civil rights in this country.
Appearing at the event will be Lassen County Superior Court Judge Michele Verderosa, Lassen County District 2 Supervisor Jim Chapman, Mayor Lino Callegari, Miss Lassen County Bailey Hagata, Susan Couso, Reverend Denise Bowman Wylie and Shireen Miles, the great-great granddaughter of town founder Isaac Roop. A Susanville native, Miles is an active advocate of women’s rights and has been a high ranking member of the National Organization for Women.
Susan Couso will be speaking as pioneering local suffragist Philenda Spencer in historical costume. As early as 1880 Spencer and her husband E.V., Lassen County’s first District Attorney and a State Representative, were working to lobby the members of the California Legislature on the suffrage issue.
In 1896 the Spencers gathered 20,000 signatures to have the question of the vote placed on the California ballot. Mrs. Spencer implored the assembled lawmakers, “When we bring petitions we are told it is not ladylike, and if we do not, then it is said to be proof positive that the women do not want the vote.”
In 1910 the progressive party submitted the suffrage issue to voters via referendum and in 1911 male voters approved full women’s suffrage. California was the sixth and largest state to approve women’s suffrage in the country. It would still be another 9 years before the ratification of the 19th Amendment which prohibited state and federal agencies from gender-based restrictions on voting.
If you would like to participate in the march you are asked to show up at the Lassen Historical Museum, 115 North Weatherlow street at 10:00a.m. 1911 period clothing is encouraged.
The celebration on the lawn at the courthouse begins at 10:30 and refreshments will be available for a small cost.