The idea of the Suffrage Parade began over a year ago when three faculty members and self-proclaimed “Bad Nancy’s” started discussing the idea for a student, faculty and staff parade to celebrate the passage of the 19th Amendment.
“One of the most exciting things to me about students now is their level of involvement and exercising their right to vote,” said Lenora “Lena” Lopez Schindler, an adjunct art professor and one of the original three “Bad Nancy’s.”
“I always feel like students love a good party and this is going to be a great party that celebrates our right to vote, regardless of what body parts we have or don’t have,” Schindler said.
This will be the first parade held on campus since the 1940s when Gonzaga held homecoming parades for its football team.
Lily Cummings, a sophomore helping organize the event, said the event is not just for women.
“Women would not have gained the right to vote unless everyone fought for that right,” Cummings said. “People, as a whole in the world, need to come together to fight for these rights.”
The parade will acknowledge that white women gained the right to vote during the original suffragist movement but women of color did not gain the right to vote until years later, Cummings said.
Another sophomore organizer, Caliste Dober, said her motivation is to understand the history of human rights in order to press forward to address today’s issues.
“This parade is really going to be something that can bring the campus together and share our passions for the issues that are still relevant today,” Dober said.
Cummings said this parade is about feminism and trying to address the negative connotation that some individuals pair with the term.
“It is important to recognize women are still and used to be oppressed and we really had to fight to gain equality and we are still not quite there,” she said. “Everyone should be a feminist. Feminism isn’t just about raising women up, it’s about raising everyone to an equal level and that is really important to me.”
The parade will start at 12:15 p.m. on March 25 in front of John J. Hemmingson Center and end at Myrtle Woldson Performing Arts Center.
It will include a historical reenactment of the suffragist movement from 100 years ago. A horse will lead the parade across campus, just like in the original parades. Teachers will dress up as various historical figures from the suffragist movement, including a portrayal of May Arkwright Hutton, an influential woman during the fight for women’s rights in Spokane.
Several women’s groups have been invited to attend the event. This includes some academic deans that will don the academic robes and insignia they wear during graduation. A group of musical theater and dance students will perform the song “Buenos Aires” from the musical “Evita.”
The event is nonpartisan, and the League of Women Voters will be on campus before, during and after the parade to register people to vote.
There are two lectures surrounding the parade. They are part of GU’s 19th and Counting initiative, which is working to celebrate the ratification of the 19th Amendment and highlight the stories of suffrage within the GU community. Veta Schlimgen of the history department will be lecturing about female activists and the legacy of progressivism on March 24 in Wolff Auditorium.
The day after the parade, on March 26 in Jundt 207, Schlimgen will be discussing how suffragists used banners, textiles and fashion as visual forms of protest and the continued influence of suffragists.
If parade participants sign up before the Friday deadline, they will be invited to a sash and banner making event, where they can create attire for the parade.
Those who would like to participate in the parade can email firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday. All community members are encouraged to attend.