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Four new markers honor the fight for equal voting rights in Wilmington

Sophia Schmidt, Delaware Public Media
A marker indicates the historic location of the Thomas Garrett Settlement House on Walnut Street

Four new historic markers are up in the City of Wilmington to commemorate women winning the right to vote. 

The new markers are part of the National Votes for Women Trail, a project by the National Collaborative for Women’s History Sites. 

One marks the site of the Thomas Garrett Settlement House on Walnut Street, where meetings of the African American Equal Suffrage Study Club and some integrated suffrage events were held in the years leading up to the ratification of the 19th amendment. 

Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings noted at a dedication ceremony Tuesday that threats to voting access still exist today, pointing to the lawsuit that sought to dismantle Delaware’s temporary vote-by-mail system last fall. Jennings said the markers should teach people a lesson. 

“That lesson is that democracy doesn’t just happen,” she said. “You have to fight for it. We all have to fight for it.”

Other markers commemorate the site of a 1914 suffrage parade and rally at Rodney Square and the homes of civil and voting rights advocates Blanche Williams Stubbs and Alice Dunbar-Nelson. 

Anne Boylan, a retired University of Delaware professor and historian focused on women’s history, helped prepare the markers.

“Let’s hope that as residents and visitors encounter these four markers, they will learn about the women whose advocacy for voting rights laid a foundation that was consequential and that challenges us to carry on that work today,” she said Tuesday. 

The markers are funded with a grant from the Pomeroy Foundation, which supports preservation of community history.  

Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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