LOUISVILLE, Ky. — This month, the nation celebrates the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment, which gave women the right to vote. Friday also brought a march on Washington, on the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
With that backdrop, the Muhammad Ali Center welcomed members of its Daughters of Greatness program to discuss what lies ahead for American women.
"If we’re going to be in this position right now we don’t have to start from scratch," said Ambassador Attallah Shabazz, a diplomat and eldest daughter of Malcolm X. "There are lessons — generations of fortitude —and lessons of perseverance."
Metro United Way CEO Theresa Reno-Weber said women should not wait for someone to invite them into the political arena.
"We need to have more women in elected office," she said. "Despite 100 years of women voting, despite the fact that women have outnumbered voters since 1964 in elections. Women are only in 20-30 percent of elected office rolls, from the federal government all the way down to local office."
UofL Professor Dr. Cate Fosl said a complete history should be told, including that many white suffragettes did not support their black counterparts in the fight for voting rights.
"Instead, they wilfully used racist and anti-immigrant arguments in the battle to get the amendment passed. We’ve got to hold them accountable for that."
And, while holding each other accountable, the panelists said, it is crucial to lift up the voices of women in this new wave of female leaders pushing for equity.
"Many women [are] pushing us forward, pushing the conversation, demanding justice and equity now," said Roula Allouch, an attorney and council on American-Islamic relations. "And how important it is for us to support them."
All women featured on the panel are past inductees into the Ali Center’s “Daughters of Greatness” program. So far, 49 women leaders have been named Daughters of Greatness.