To commemorate the 150th anniversary since the women of Utah voted for the first time and the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment in August 2020, Better Days 2020 gifted Utah a monument that celebrates Utah women’s role in the national equal voting rights movement.
Memphis University assistant professor of art and sculptor Kelsey Harrison and Weber State University associate professor of art and sculptor Jason Manley created it.
The journey of voting rights for women of Utah started on February 14th, 1870, when Seraph Young and 25 other women voted for the first time under an equal suffrage law. Seventeen years later, the US Congress passed the federal anti-polygamy Edmunds–Tucker Act of 1878, revoking Utah women’s voting rights. Women of Utah fought back; they organized rallies, demonstrations, and petitions across Utah and secured voting rights in Utah’s constitution in 1896. After winning the vote in their country, they worked with the national women’s suffrage movement to win voting rights for all American women.
The interactive memorial stands in front of the Salt Lake City Council Hall, the building women voted for the first time.
Several bootprints on the ground lead to the memorial; one has the words “1870 Seraph Young” engraved. There are replicas of two chairs and a table from the administrative buildings where the finalization of the state constitution took place. Article 4 of Utah’s constitution is inscribed on the table: “The rights of citizens of the State of Utah to vote and hold office shall not be denied or abridged on account of sex. Both male and female citizens of the State shall enjoy equally all civil, political, and religious rights and privileges.”
Four doorways mark the milestones in the journey to equal voting rights; each is wider than before, representing how equality grew with each milestone.
The first door marks the ratification of the 19th Amendment that granted voting rights to some women. Around that door are quotes from Martha Hughes Cannon, Emmeline B. Wells, Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth, and other Utah and national suffrage leaders. It was a huge milestone, but not all women were granted voting rights.
The second doorframe represents the Indian Citizenship Act conferred US citizenship on all American Indians for the first time in 1924; Utah granted Native Americans on reservations the vote only in 1957.
The third doorframe represents the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, enabling people from Asian countries to become citizens and vote.
The fourth and last doorway represents the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965 which enabled all people of color to register to vote. It leads to a wide path that faces the State Capitol building.
“A Path Forward” Virtual Field Trip
Follow along this virtual field trip explaining the elements in "A Path Forward," a new memorial to voting rights history in Salt Lake City. This sculpture was created by artists Kelsey Harrison and Jason Manley. Better Days 2020 presented it as a gift to the State of Utah to commemorate the 19th Amendment centennial in August 2020.
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“A Path Forward” Virtual Field TripFollow along this virtual field trip explaining the elements in "A Path Forward," a new memorial to voting rights history in Salt Lake City. This sculpture was created by artists Kelsey Harrison and Jason Manley. Better Days 2020 presented it as a gift to the State of Utah to commemorate the 19th Amendment centennial in August 2020.
This post is also available in: Español