BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The chance to cast a ballot. It’s something most of us take for granted. One hundred years ago, it was something worth fighting for.
“I think people today don’t have a real sense of the struggle that people had to get their right to vote,” says Jennifer Watts. She’s the director of Museum Programs at Vulcan, and helped curate the new exhibit “Right or Privilege? Alabama Women and the Vote.”
“Our exhibit takes a long view of the history of voting rights in Alabama. It profiles 19 different women who impacted voting rights in the state, from the 1890s through 2003,” says Watts.
Since 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, the exhibit honors the fight for women’s suffrage, and the battle in the south that followed to extend that right to women of color too.
“Anybody from women to people of color, immigrants, everybody in those categories had extra above and beyond struggle to get their right to vote,” says Watts.
The exhibit chronicles the life and work of women from Alabama who played significate roles in voting rights. It also features artifacts from the Birmingham History Center Collection, which recently merged with Vulcan Park and Museum.
Artifacts include Historical documents and photographs, including a Ballot from 1901 constitutional convention. Oral histories are also included, thanks to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.
“I hope they take a way a sense of what shaped Alabama as a state and how those struggles inform our state today, and how much work went into getting those voting rights, I can’t express that enough,” says Watts.
Events will be held throughout the year in conjunction with the exhibit, including a play, a film through the Sidewalk Film Center, and voter registration drives.
“My hope for this exhibit is that will encourage people to value their vote and then to use it,” says Watts.