Saturday program will serve as tribute to women's suffrage pioneers
It’s been 100 years since Oregon women won the right to vote, but the women behind the movement have been anything but forgotten.
On Saturday, Lone Fir Pioneer Cemetery will host "Suffragists Among Us," a tribute and dedication to Portland’s women who fought for their right to vote at the turn of the century. The event will specifically shine a light on Hattie Redmond, an African-American suffragist who helped lead the 1912 campaign that won equal voting rights for Oregon women.
"She was unique for her time," said Janice Dilg, project director of Century of Action, the Oregon women’s suffrage history organization behind the event. "Reaching across racial and ethnic lines, especially back then, was not easy. She deserves recognition."
Dilg says that Redmond’s story was largely unknown until a few years ago, when historians and genealogists found records of her political involvement at the forefront of the suffrage movement. Now, her efforts will be acknowledged at the place of her burial.
While Redmond was buried in the Lone Fir Pioneer Cemetery, her grave remains unmarked. Saturday’s event includes a headstone dedication ceremony for Redmond – finally marking her gravesite.
Along with this dedication, the event will feature presentations by Oregon politicians, illustrating the monumental work of these suffragists by reading historic speeches by past leaders. Metro Councilor Rex Burkholder plans on representing former Portland Mayor Harry Lane – a strong supporter of women’s suffrage – by dressing up in period costume and reciting one of Lane’s speeches on suffrage while standing on his gravesite.
"The history of Lone Fir is amazing," Burkholder said. "It’s important to bring this history to life."
Metro Councilor Barbra Roberts, who will also be sharing a speech by Portland suffragist Esther Lovejoy at Saturday’s event, says that the region’s pioneer cemeteries will be featuring more events based on the historic figures buried in them. Within a few years, she said, Lone Fir will host events recognizing the Chinese workers and mental health patients buried there.
"Pioneer cemeteries remind us of our past and help us celebrate our past," Roberts said. "The more you understand about these cemeteries, the more you understand about Oregon’s history in general. It’s about the people."