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Supreme Court to livestream ceremonial session honoring the centennial of women’s suffrage

Lucy Ames Edwards and Cora Ames Byrd

Lucy Ames Edwards and Cora Ames Byrd march on Washington in 1917 in support of the 19th Amendment.

The Florida Supreme Court will hold a ceremonial session to commemorate the centennial of the 19th Amendment and to honor the women in Florida who have elevated the rule of law.

Due to the pandemic, the session will air for the press and the public on The Florida Channel with simultaneous Facebook Live and YouTube premieres on Wednesday, December 16 starting at 2 p.m. ET.

Chief Justice Charles Canady, Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez, Justice Jamie Grosshans, Florida Bar President Dori Foster-Morales, and Rep. Fentrice Driskell will speak, as well as Jennifer Houghton Canady, who is a member of the Florida Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission and of the Florida Commission on the Status of Women, who will speak about the original supporters of the suffrage wearing yellow roses.

“We are especially honored to be joined in this ceremony by representatives of both the executive and legislative branch of Florida’s government,” Chief Justice Canady said. “As the year 2020 draws to a close, we join with everyone in Florida who over the course of this centennial year have in various ways celebrated the monumental impact of women’s suffrage.”

The session will also include women leaders in the state’s legal profession providing a virtual tour of the ABA exhibit “100 Years after the 19th Amendment: Their Legacy, and Our Future.” Those leaders include National Bar Association Past President and former Florida state Sen. Arthenia Joyner, Cuban American Bar Association Past President Frances De La Guardia, Florida Association for Women Lawyers President Kimberly Hosley, Greater Orlando Asian American Bar Association President Onchantho Am, and U.S. District Court Judge Mary Scriven. The exhibit highlights the launch of the movement, the road to ratification, the battle for women’s equality, expanding democracy for minorities, and the new wave of suffragists.

The 19th Amendment, which legally guarantees American women the right to vote, required a lengthy and difficult struggle and victory took decades of agitation and protest. On August 26, 1920, the U.S. Secretary of State issued a proclamation declaring the 19th Amendment ratified and officially part of the U.S. Constitution.

According to Florida Bar President Foster-Morales, when the 19th Amendment was ratified on August 18, 1920, there had been 22 women admitted to practice law in Florida. Today, there are more than 35,000 women lawyers in Florida who are eligible to practice and in good standing.

“As only the seventh woman to serve as the president of The Florida Bar, I am truly indebted to the brave suffragettes who had the strength to shatter the most significant glass ceiling of all, guaranteeing women the right to vote in America,” Foster-Morales said. “I am also incredibly grateful to the many inspirational women lawyers who have come before me.”

Florida’s celebration of the Women’s Suffrage Centennial has been led by the Florida Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission chaired by Lt. Gov. Nuñez. Also serving on the commission are Florida Bar members Secretary of State Laurel Lee, Rep. Driskell, and Julie Brown of Tampa.

A recording of the ceremonial session will be archived and available on the Gavel to Gavel website at wfsu.org/gavel2gavel.

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