News | Aug. 25, 2016

Employees celebrate women’s right to vote

By Ron Inman DLA Energy Public Affairs

Defense Logistics Agency employees gathered to celebrate women’s right to vote and commemorate their struggles and triumphs to gain what today is a fundamental right for Americans during a Women’s Equality Day event held at the McNamara Headquarters Complex Aug. 24. 

The guest speaker, Kathryn Ray, former president of The League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia and currently a reference librarian at American University in Washington, D.C., took participants on an immersive journey into the history of women’s suffrage with a presentation that ranged from the beginnings of the United States to modern times. 

“Today's guest speaker, Ms. Kathryn Ray, did an amazing job reminding us of the struggles women faced while trying to get the right to vote,” said Darrell Bogan, DLA Energy Equal Employment Opportunity director. “I walked away better informed and inspired to speak up against injustices wherever they may exist.”

During her presentation, Ray detailed the development of the women’s suffrage movement from 1776, before the U.S. was even a nation, through the 1800s, when slowly-changing public sentiment and support of women’s right to vote resulted in changes to state laws and enabled more women to vote, through to the 1920 ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, legally giving women the right to vote. 

The final part of Ray’s presentation reminded the audience that the right to vote should not be taken for granted by any American, and encouraged attendees to exercise their voting rights. Ray cited recent election year percentages which showed less than half of Americans voted in congressional elections since 1982 and only 61 percent in the last presidential election. 

“We encourage all citizens to educate themselves before they go to the polls,” Ray emphasized. “Remember, people went to jail, people died and people risked great sacrifice … so we’re asking you to honor their sacrifice, to pay attention and to participate … because it’s your country, and it’s our future.” 

At the conclusion of her presentation, Ray answered questions from employees, mostly focused on her historical expertise and knowledge of the subject including the history of voter representation in the District of Columbia and millennials voting behavior.  

“DLA's Women's Day Ceremony was an exceptional event,” said Air Force Capt. Joanna McDonald, DLA Energy Plan and Operations’ chief of Plans and Programs. “She brought to light much of the past women's suffrage movements and brought it all home with today's voting concerns and realities.”