Each month we’ll feature a Q&A with one of the commissioners of the Indiana Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission. March’s feature: Joyce Rogers
Q: As Board Chair for the Madame C.J. Walker Theater and Vice President for Development and External Relations for the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Multicultural Affairs at Indiana University, why is it important for the state to mark the centennial anniversary of women’s suffrage?
A: This is an important time in our history and, equally so, we should celebrate suffrage and those dedicated to the movement for over seventy years to ensure women received this right. Throughout our history, the right to vote was denied based on race, sex, age and economic status. This movement did not just provide women the right to vote but mobilized civil action among women in many ways. The struggle was historical, and we must continue to uplift those who dedicated their lives to see it through. For Hoosiers, we promoted suffrage in even the most remote parts of the state. When I think of our Indiana suffrage leaders, I know that my life today is because of the life they chose yesterday, and I am humbled by this opportunity for all of us to recognize and say “thank you” to these leaders.
Q: How would you encourage Hoosiers from all walks of life to promote and celebrate this important milestone in our state and nation’s history?
A: There are many opportunities to promote and celebrate this important milestone across our state. I ask all to be intentional and find tributes in your area to participate and pay homage.
Q: Who is a woman who has inspired you in your life and/or career?
A: One of the women who has inspired me from the suffrage movement is Sojourner Truth. It gives me chills to think about how it must have felt to be in her presence when she gave her “Ain’t I a Woman” speech in 1851. During this historical speech, Sojourner refuted the myth that women are weaker than men while challenging the social definitions of women. There were a lot of movements going on during this time and her powerful speeches gave voice to the intersectionality between women’s suffrage and rights for Blacks. Often neither included Black women.
Q: What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?
A: Never lose sight of the struggle and those that came before us. Our suffragists gave their lives for the rights and privileges that we continue to exercise and enjoy today.