Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Voicing equality

Tucked at the bottom of Gail Collins' New York Times column this week, a wonderful anecdote.
Early in the commentary Collins (right) observed that "in the days of yore," Americans "would flock to listen to a two-hour speech from a state senator whose oratory was undoubtedly improved by the fact that, in an unamplified era, he could only actually be heard by the front quarter of the audience."
She ended by telling how one couple gave full voice to their support for equality:
... American women first got the right to vote, in Wyoming in 1869 .... [R]esidents were so proud of what they’d accomplished that when Wyoming became a state in 1890, the first speech after the celebratory parade was dedicated to the subject of suffrage.
Theresa Jenkins, who gave the address, got particular commendation for her delivery, which was so forceful she could be heard at the far reaches of a crowd that stretched back for four blocks. It turned out she had been practicing by standing out in the open prairie, giving her speech while her husband sat in a buggy, backing farther and farther away and yelling 'Louder!'

Two years later, Jenkins and a Wyoming colleague, Cora Carleton, both Republicans, became the 1st 2 women to attend a major party's national convention in an official capacity -- both served as alternate delegates in the Wyoming delegation. And to this day, Wyoming's known as the Equality State.

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