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Philadelphia to Host Commemoration of 19th Amendment Centennial

July 2, 2015

With hundreds of thousands of visitors expected to participate in the national recognition of the centennial of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote, Philadelphia planners are well on their way to developing the Year 2020 program into something a lot more grand than merely noting a historical date.

Called “A Celebration of American Women,” the agenda will feature a year-long series of events highlighting the achievements of women, as part of the nationwide campaign for equality under Vision 2020, an initiative of the Institute for Women’s Health and Leadership of Drexel University College of Medicine.

“We intend to honor the past, enrich the present and shape the future through an extended festival of learning experiences,” said Lynn Yeakel, who created Vision 2020 and established it in all 50 states. “This centennial provides an opportunity to salute some very courageous women of another time and to illustrate the value to America of having women share equally with men the responsibilities in our society.”

Yeakel and Dianne Semingson, who chairs the celebration committee, conducted a key mid-June planning session at the National Constitution Center, one of several Vision 2020 partners in the project.

“Our partners also include Visit Philadelphia, WHYY, The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, as well as coast-to-coast Vision 2020 delegates and over 80 allied organizations, representing 22 million people across the nation,” said Yeakel.

Semingson highlighted three key dates:  March 4, August 26 and November 3.

“We expect an agenda that carries the message every one of the 366 days in 2020,” Semingson said, “with special emphasis on a major launch event on March 4, on the federally designated Women’s Equality Day of August 26, and on Election Day in November, when we’ll be seeking the largest turnout of women voters in U.S. history.”

She went on to describe the forums, seminars, parades, pageants and cultural events that will be conducted throughout the year. Anne Ewers, president and CEO of the Kimmel Center, expanded on plans to feature female artists and composers throughout the year at various city venues.

During the planning session, which was attended also by mayoral candidates Melissa Bailey and Jim Kenney, presentations were made by Visit Philadelphia’s Betsy Oliphant, National Constitution Center’s COO Vince Stango, and Mary Hagy, chair of a subcommittee exploring social media and digital learning. 

“We have just over four years to prepare for this dynamic and overdue celebration,” Yeakel commented.  “We plan to use that time to engage the entire nation in this tribute to America’s women and girls. Vision 2020 is delighted with the early enthusiasm we’ve received in the Delaware Valley and throughout the nation.”

Vision 2020 is a national coalition of organizations and individuals working to achieve goals for women that include shared leadership, economic parity, youth education and increased civic engagement.

Lynn Yeakel and Dianne Semingson address the audience at a recent Vision 2020 event.

Lynn Yeakel and Dianne Semingson address the audience at a recent Vision 2020 event.