Each month we’ll feature a Q&A with one of the commissioners of the Indiana Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission. April’s feature: Representative Cherrish Pryor
Q: Why is it important for the state to mark the centennial anniversary of women’s suffrage?
A: The state of Indiana often celebrates major milestones in our history. This is certainly one which needs to be celebrated and acknowledged. The road to where we are did not come easy and took a long time. Honoring those who made this possible and sharing the history of where we came from with younger generations must occur so we don’t forget and never go back.
Q: Who is a woman who has inspired you in your life and/or career?
A: The woman who inspired me the most in my life and my career is my grandmother, Opatria Pryor. She traveled the rural dirt roads of Marshall County, Mississippi to register voters and campaign for candidates. My aunt and I were right there with her. Although I was young and did not completely understand what she was doing, I knew it was important and would have an impact on the life of African Americans.
Q: How has your own path exemplified the furtherance of women’s rights?
A: I am the only person in my family to hold elected office and the first in my immediate family to receive a bachelor’s and master’s degree. As an African American female, I realize the challenges and roadblocks that are ahead of me, but I know that my calling as a public servant does not allow me to give up. Too many African America women sacrificed to much for me to be here.
Q: How can we encourage women to continue to break barriers?
A: We encourage women to break barriers by supporting one another, using our collective power, using our voice and demanding that we are at the table when decisions are being discussed and made. We cannot accept and allow men to make decisions for us and we must use our voice to speak up when doors are closed and there are attempts to keep us locked out. We have the power. We need to always understand that and know there is not a barrier we cannot break.