Henderson girls, Berkley introduce Suffrage Day bill
By Suzanne Struglinski
SUN WASHINGTON BUREAU
The Las Vegas Valley League of Women Voters will hold a book reading of "A Time For Courage: The Suffragette Diary of Kathleen Bowen" at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Sahara West Library.
They are not old enough to vote, let alone run for Congress, but two Henderson girls joined Rep. Shelley Berkley on the House floor Thursday as she introduced a bill to create National Women's Suffrage Day.
Hannah Low, 8, and Destiny Carroll, 9, inspired the bill when they presented Berkley, D-Nev., a petition last year with 250 signatures calling for the holiday. Berkley thought it was only appropriate they join her on the floor, a rare privilege for the unelected, as she presented it to Congress.
"I wanted them to feel a part of the process and see firsthand how a bill gets introduced," she said. "I hope we can do this before they are old enough to vote."
Low came up with the idea after reading Kathryn Lasky's "A Time for Courage: The Suffragette Diary of Kathleen Bowen," last fall. Low, then a third grader at Taylor Elementary, could not believe girls did not always have the right to vote, her mother, Jodi Tyson said.
"She asked me how do you get a holiday? and I told her Congress has to pass a bill," Tyson said. "I thought it would just last for five minutes."
But Low did not back down. She gathered some loose leaf paper, labeled it "A new holiday celibrating Kathleen Bowen and others" and began asking classmates for support. Carroll signed the papers, then asked if she could help.
"They just worked so hard," said Carroll, who has known Low since second grade.
"If it weren't for them we would just be at home rocking the babies all day long," Low said, mimicking rocking a cradle.
Although Kathleen Bowen is a fictional character, the girls still wanted a day to honor the real women who picketed, went to jail and marched in Washington for the right to vote, they said. Through diary entries, the book describes struggles faced by Alice Paul and other suffrage leaders.
Berkley's office and the Las Vegas League of Women Voters eventually learned of the girls' work. Beyond Berkley's bill, the league inducted them as honorary members and will hold a voter registration drive on July 19. The day marks the anniversary of the opening of the 1848 women's convention in Seneca Falls, N.Y.,that led to the women's suffrage movement.
The league will also sponsor a reading of Lasky's book at the Sahara West Library on Saturday in Low's honor.
After their floor appearance and a tour of the Capitol, where they took photos of everything they passed, they ate lunch with Berkley in the members' dining room, did some television interviews and headed back to Berkley's office for a reception with other female members of Congress.
They handed out gold sunflower pins from the Las Vegas League of Women Voters to Berkley and other members they met.
"When they (the Suffragettes) fought, they would wear hats with sunflowers," Carroll said, "So we wanted to represent that, but a lot of people do not know now what it's for."
Rep. Grace Napolitano, D-Calif., who met with the girls in Berkley's office, wrote special messages in their autograph books.
Napolitano is one of 50 co-sponsors of Berkley's bill, although she aims to get at least 100, including members of the House women's caucus.
The bill needs to go through committee and other channels before becoming law, which can take time.
"Let's hope there is no debate," Berkley said.