Submitted by Russell DeSimone, RI State Coordinator, NVWT
The long-planned Centennial Commemoration of the 19th Amendment, which gave women nationally the right to vote, took place August 26, 2020, in the Gold Room at Marble House. The event was hosted by CEO & Executive Director Trudy Coxe with a virtual audience looking on via Zoom video conference, as necessitated by the pandemic. The keynote speech was delivered virtually from Blenheim Palace in the UK by Lady Henrietta Spencer-Churchill, great-granddaughter of Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan, who was a noted suffragist along with her mother, Alva Vanderbilt Belmont. Governor Gina Raimondo, the first woman elected to the office in Rhode Island, and R.I. Poet Laureate Tina Cane provided recorded messages while poet, activist and educator Amber Rose Johnson spoke virtually.
Also participating were Jane Koster, President of the League of Women Voters of Rhode Island; Russell DeSimone, Director of the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame; and Theresa Guzman Stokes, Executive Director of the Rhode Island Black Heritage Society. During the event, a plaque was unveiled designating Marble House part of the new National Votes for Women Trail. Alva Vanderbilt Belmont, who hosted national suffrage conferences at her Newport estate in 1909 and 1914, was also inducted into the R.I. Heritage Hall of Fame.