Ashley Hall Honors the 19th Amendment
As an all-girls’ school founded a decade prior to women gaining the right to vote, Ashley Hall’s history is uniquely tied to the suffragist movement. The School’s founder, Mary Vardrine McBee, was active in the first Women’s Suffrage Organization in South Carolina. “For me personally, it’s really created this kind of drive at the School to continue that legacy, the legacy of advocacy, of being grounded in community and place, of understanding the importance of beauty in the lives of everyone, what it means to be a citizen and civically responsible, not only for ourselves but for others,” said Head of School Jill Muti, who discussed the 19th Amendment and the path ahead for the female leaders of tomorrow as part of the Post and Courier’s “We the Women” series.
In fall 2020, Ashley Hall celebrated the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment’s ratification and proudly hosted “100 Years After the 19th Amendment: Their Legacy, and Our Future,” a traveling exhibit by the American Bar Association (ABA) and the Library of Congress that honors the women’s suffrage movement. The award-winning exhibit featured photographs of historic documents and artifacts and detailed the story of the battle for ratification and the challenges that remain. Students interacted with the exhibit during several special events.
History Department faculty member Chris Frisby addressed students on the lasting importance of the 19th Amendment and its relevance to both their present and future selves. “I hope you will take time these next few days to pause to review the interpretive banners and reflect on the history of a movement that has profoundly shaped and benefited your own lives,” he said. “When we think and speak about the 19th Amendment, I always encourage students to work from the idea that women earned the right to vote through the 19th Amendment. I discourage students from making statements like, ‘The 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote.’ This seemingly small difference matters. I do this because it is critically important to acknowledge the agency of women in working to advance their own rights.”
Presented in a digital format, the Upper School Fall Concert paid homage to the ratification of the 19th Amendment and the ongoing struggle to protect its legacy. In a nod to female composers, whose works were not regularly performed publicly at the beginning of the 20th century, the Red Choir and Chamber Choir sang “Faith is the Bird that Feels the Light” by Elizabeth Alexander. The song “This Little Light of Mine” was sung by the Red Choir, Chamber Choir, and Nautilus Choir in honor of Fannie Lou Hamer, a civil rights activist who fought to ensure the right to vote for all American women, including disenfranchised women of color.