Tuesday, August 26, 2008, is the 88th anniversary of the certification of the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. When it was certified, the courageous woman on the far left of this photo, Ruth Sheridan, was a young girl. My mother had just celebrated her second birthday.
There have been many battles for women to fight, to gain niches here and there in their constant campaigns toward full equality. That parity with the rights of males hasn't yet been won.
In Alaska, there have always been some opportunities for women of strong character. I remember being struck, back in 1973, when I came to Cordova, at how few women were there, but also, how strong and unique so many of them were. At that time, though, there were many battles for women to fight for, to gain more equality in newer areas.
For instance, Title IX had been enacted in 1972, the previous year. It took awhile for its benefits to come to pass, but this past two weeks' Olympics showed the world hundreds of powerful American, woman athletes. This past June, Judy and I saw our daughter become an NCAA champion in a rowing program enabled by Title IX.
This evening, Judy and I watched Michelle Obama's extraordinarily stirring, emotionally powerful speech at the Democratic National Convention. She acknowledged battles fought and won, but called for us to engage in battles still unwon - equal pay for equal work, better early childhood education, a sane rebuilding of our medical care system.
Part of the seriousness of the battles still unwon, is in how casually the American media has totally distorted the accurate image of Michelle Obama. FOX, MSNBC and CNN all misrepresented her statements about her pride in our country, and observations she has had over the years as an African American woman.
But the woman we saw tonight, vividly describing her blue collar upbringing, education, life work and family life is someone - I hope - most Americans can embrace fully as a model person, student, sister and mom.
The fights women of color choose to sometimes fight against enormous odds in Alaska has many examples. Two of the most important have been drawn together in Diane Benson's story of the civil rights struggle of Tlingit activist, Elizabeth Peratrovich.
Diane Benson's two-and-a-half-year-long struggle to unseat Don Young, a representative who has more often left women's rights behind than has helped, her role in bringing Elizabeth Peratrovich's story to a wider audience, and the many almost countless aspects of her struggle for her own dignity and that of hundreds of others, will be looked upon in Alaska as historical.
It is fitting that the next stage of her battle, Tuesday's Alaska Primary, is on this 88th Anniversary of the certification of the nineteenth Amendment. No matter how the poll numbers end up tomorrow, she has contributed much, and will contribute a lot more to the story of women's rights and civil rights in Alaska.