Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom – August 2020

WILPF  MEETING

Normally we meet on the second Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. at the Fresno Center for Nonviolence, 1584 N Van Ness Ave. This meeting is open to all. There will be no in-person meeting this month. We have been meeting online on the appointed day  and time; watch your e-mail for an announcement and link or call-in number! If you have no e-mail, contact Teresa or Leni by phone for the information.

STIR IT UP–WILPF KFCF 88.1 FM

Aug. 26 (fourth Wednesday of each month). Jean Hays does outstanding interviews on subjects involving WILPF interests and activities. Tune in to 88.1!

Our committees are still at work even though we cannot meet in person!

LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE

Contact Jean Hays at skyhorse3593@sbcglobal.net.

LIBRARY COMMITTEE

Contact Ann Carruthers at acarruthers@earthlink.net.

EARTH DEMOCRACY

Contact Jean Hays at skyhorse3593@sbcglobal.net.

CUBA AND THE BOLIVARIAN ALLIANCE

Contact Leni at lenivreeves@gmail.com.

ADVANCING HUMAN RIGHTS/WINGS

Contact Bev Fitzpatrick at dfitzpatrick29@comcast.net.

RAGING GRANNIES

Contact Patty at 559-999-9709. 

ANTI-RACISM

Contact Jean Kennedy at drjeankennedy@yahoo.com.

WOMEN IN BLACK

A worldwide network of women committed to peace with justice and actively opposed to injustice, war, racism and other forms of violence. Aug. 5 at noon at the Fresno County Courthouse. Wear black and a mask, bring a sign if you wish, and stand in silence for peace and against racism. Contact Teresa at taca_03@ymail.com or 559-360-8054.

MEMBERSHIP

Send dues to WILPF Fresno, P.O. Box 5114, Fresno, CA 93755.

For inquiries, information and updates, contact Evonne Waldo at evonnewaldo@yahoo.com.

WILPF membership is $35/year. Contact Evonne about the low-income rate, sponsored by your contributions above $35, all of which goes to the national organization.

Find us on Facebook!

  • WILPF Fresno: www.facebook.com/Wilpf-Fresno-395764603812264/
  • WILPF Fresno Earth Democracy: www.facebook.com/WILPF-Fresno-Earth-Democracy-497869307089677/   
  • WILPF Fresno Library Committee: www.facebook.com/WILPF-Fresno-Library-Committee-437118029825800/
  • Fresno WILPF Cuba Solidarity Committee: www.facebook.com/fresnosolidarity/

CELEBRATING WOMEN’S SUFFRAGE

When they weren’t seizing land and killing American Indians, European colonizers discovered that women of the Haudenosaunee Confederation (aka Iroquois Confederacy) had equal governing and voting rights with men. While the U.S. Constitution framers incorporated elements of Haudenosaunee governance, so strong was the European ideology of women as unfit for citizenship, framers omitted women’s political equality.

By the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848, U.S. women, Black and White, had had enough and confronted U.S. male rulers. Seventy-two years of suffrage activists’ work later, women secured the right to vote in all elections.

Men-only voting was a leftover from times, Jane Addams said, when only those who could raise their warrior shields could vote. Governing was about protection from enemies and outsiders. These warrior values persist in political life, even in cities. In our time, too, repressive, militarized police command far too large a share of city budgets.

Most of the departments of a modern city, Addams thought, “can be traced to, mirror, women’s traditional activities”: keeping the city clean, providing care for the sick, promoting safety, teaching and playing with the young. Because women learn these skills at home, she reasoned, they should be applying their values and know-how and directing their efforts toward the wider world of policymaking, or “municipal housekeeping.”

Many suffragists were community organizers committed to reforming labor practices, schooling, racist practices and immigration policy. Addams learned about lynching from African American journalist Ida B. Wells-Barnett and joined Barnett’s campaign to stop it. They worked successfully together to stop the racial segregation of Chicago schools. Wells-Barnett formed the Alpha Suffrage Club to involve African American women in that struggle.

Nonetheless, Wells pointed out that in her anti-lynching article, while Addams argues for the rule of law, she did not challenge the assumption that the Black men lynched were guilty. Racism is pervasive and unlearning it is endless.

Women’s suffrage organizing was frequently coupled with their activism to stop war. In 1915, at the outset of WWI, women formed the American Woman’s Peace Party (WPP) not only to keep the United States out of WWI but also to secure the vote. The first president of the WPP was Addams.

Aso in that year, 50 women from the WPP and other progressive women sailed to the Hague to meet with 1,500 European women at the International Congress of Women to strategize how to stop all wars. The second plank in their platform was women’s suffrage.

Addams ensured that African American organizer and president of the National Association of Colored Women, Mary Church Terrell, be a delegation member. As president of the International Congress of Women, Addams intervened to ensure Terrell’s resolution on “Race Equality” was passed.

At the end of the war, May 1919, as the Versailles Treaty was being negotiated, 147 women pacifists and suffragists from both sides of the war reconvened the International Congress in Zurich. Besides calling for total disarmament, an end to naval blockades, full and equal suffrage, and basic rights for minorities, they called for the adoption of a Woman’s Charter to promote equality for women in marriage, education, job training, the end of slavery and the sex trade, and economic security for women and children.

Delegates renamed their organization the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. Addams was the first president.

In the United States, several states had granted women the vote from 1911 to 1919, though in some states this vote was limited. Both political parties endorsed the 19th Amendment in 1916. Suffragists invented picketing the White House, which they did six days a week for four months. President Wilson finally conceded and endorsed the amendment.

The U.S. Congress passed the 19th Amendment on June 4, 1919. Suffragists then campaigned across the country to secure 36 states’ ratification, which was accomplished on Aug. 18, 2020. Interestingly, the Tennessee legislator who was the ultimate and deciding vote in favor did so because he received a note from his mother telling him to do the right thing.

Campaigning for women’s suffrage was arduous but had its lighter moments. In Chicago, Addams took the stage between vaudeville acts to stump for the vote. In response to the “reasons” advanced by anti-suffragists why women should not vote, she retorted in the Ladies Home Journal of June 1913 with reasons that, were the tables turned, men should not be allowed to vote.

The first is militarism: “You are so fond of fighting…You’d very likely forget that the real object of the State is to nurture and protect life and out of sheer vainglory you would be voting away huge sums of money for battleships…Every time a gun is fired in a battleship it expends, or rather explodes, seventeen hundred dollars, as much as a college education…You would be firing off these guns as mere salutes…simply because you so enjoy the sound of shooting.”

Another is capitalist greed: “You have always been so eager to make money; what assurance have we that in your desire to get the largest amount of coal out of the ground in the shortest possible time you would not permit the mine supports to decay and mine damp to accumulate, until the percentage of accidents among miners would be simply heartbreaking?”

In our era, we must work to reverse voter disenfranchisement while some of us topple the generals and enslavers from their plinths.

—Dr Jan Slagter, professor emerita and former chair of the Fresno State Women’s Studies Department; member of Fresno WILPF; and alternate regional representative from the Americas to the WILPF International Board 

HIROSHIMA DAY COMMEMORATION

Fresno WILPF, along with many other branches throughout the United States, will be somberly observing Hiroshima and Nagasaki remembrance days with events on Aug. 6 and 9. Our branch will be a part of the Aug. 6 Hiroshima day local observance, partnering with the Human Rights Coalition (HRCCV) and all its member organizations. See the article elsewhere in this month’s Community Alliance. 

As attendance at the Aug. 6 event at the Fresno State Peace Garden is limited to 20 people because of quarantine restrictions, it will be live-streamed at www.facebook.com/HRCCV.

Fresno WILPF’s board members will do a dawn ceremony at the foot of the statue of Jane Addams at the Fresno State Peace Garden on Aug. 6, draping ropes of peace cranes on her statue. These cranes were sent to WILPF, among 86 groups in 31 countries, by atom bomb survivors leading a worldwide campaign for a treaty banning nuclear weapons. This will mark the somber beginning of the Hiroshima Day activities.

Some of us will be a part of the fast for peace, beginning that day and continuing to Aug. 9. If you would like to join in this activity, details are elsewhere in this month’s Community Alliance or @HRCCV (FaceBook).

For more info on various Aug. 6–9 branch activities in the United States, visit the WILPF-US Web site and click on the Disarm/End Wars issues group.

—Jean Hays, WILPF-US Earth Democracy Leadership Team and co-chair of the Fresno Branch Legislative Committee

COVID-19: CUBA SHOWS THE WAY

How has Cuba controlled COVID-19? How can young U.S. students from poor families study medicine (for free!) in Cuba, then return to the United States to serve their communities as doctors? Join us for a Zoom presentation on Tuesday, Aug. 4, from 8 p.m. to 9.30 p.m.

Register at:

https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZMpceugrj0jHtQ2_F9K1knxGlwp6jGKd16g. After registering, you will receive a confirmation e-mail containing information about joining the meeting.

Speakers: John Waller, coordinator of the IFCO/Pastors for Peace Annual Caravan to Cuba, and Dr. Abraham Vela, California graduate of the Latin American School of Medicine in Cuba.

A social and economic catastrophe is unfolding in the United States due to the Covid-19 crisis, with communities of color being by far the hardest hit. It could have been handled very differently.

In the first 15 days of July, there were only 97 new infections in the whole country of Cuba—11 million people—and only one Covid-19 death. For the same 15-day period in Fresno County—1 million people—there was about 4,000 new infections and 20 deaths. At the same time, Cuba has sent health brigades, with doctors, nurses and innovative treatments, to assist many countries in the world including Italy and Andorra in Europe.

Instead of seeking to learn from and collaborate with Cuba, the Trump administration has been intensifying the 60-year U.S. economic blockade of Cuba, leading particularly to shortages of food and fuel on the island now.

But 200 Cuban-trained doctors are working in the United States. They are U.S. graduates of the Latin American School of Medicine in Havana. They are mostly people of color from economically deprived communities who received full scholarships from the Cuban government under a program administered by the New York–based organization IFCO/Pastors for Peace.

IFCO/Pastors for Peace has been campaigning against the blockade for almost 30 years, including taking U.S. citizens and humanitarian aid on annual Caravans to Cuba in defiance of the blockade, and enabling U.S. people to see for themselves the reality of life in Cuba. Currently, it is playing a leading role in the Saving Lives campaign in favor of medical collaboration with Cuba and will be organizing another caravan once it is safe to do so.

WILPF Fresno is a local sponsor of the Pastors for Peace Caravan, along with the Fresno Center for Nonviolence, and members participate in solidarity activities through the Cuba and Bolivarian Alliance Issues Committee. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/fresnosolidarity/ or lenivreeves@gmail.com.

—Leni Villagomez Reeves, M.D., co-chair of the WILPF-U.S. Cuba and the Bolivarian Alliance Issues Committee

EQUALITY FOR WOMEN DAY: AUG. 26— SIGN UP

The WILPF Fresno Suffragist Car Caravan will deliver centennial-related items to the first 50 members who sign up to participate by e-mailing Evonne Waldo at evonnewaldo@yahoo.com or leaving a voicemail or text message at 831-214-1007.

The WILPF page is usually compiled and edited by Leni Villagomez Reeves (lenivreeves@gmail.com).

  • The Community Alliance is a monthly newspaper that has been published in Fresno, California, since 1996. The purpose of the newspaper is to help build a progressive movement for social and economic justice.

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