Sims Memorial Library hosts “Determined to Rise” panel


Dylan Meche

Dr. Elizabeth Hornsby, Dr. Carol Madere and Dr. Sam Cavell participate in a panel hosted by the Sims Memorial Library marking the opening of the “Determined to Rise: The Women’s Suffrage Movement in Louisiana” exhibit.

On June 28, the Sims Memorial Library hosted a panel discussion that commemorated the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment and the history of women’s suffrage. 

The panel marks the opening of the exhibit “Determined to Rise: The Women’s Suffrage Movement in Louisiana” which will be on display in the Sims Memorial Library. The exhibit has traveled around the state since August of 2020. 

The discussion was led by three university professors who are members of the Centennial Women’s Suffrage Project team: assistant professor of history and political science Dr. Sam Cavell, Dr. Carol Madere and Dr. Elizabeth Hornsby. 

Cavell opened the discussion by emphasizing her belief that there is still work needed to be done in spite of the passage of the 15th and 19th amendments. She cited proposed voting laws in Arizona and Georgia as examples of how suffrage is still far from complete.

“It is really hard to look at the reality of what the 19th amendment brought in these terms. Superficially, we might see some things to celebrate and there are certainly things to celebrate, but if we scratch the surface, the problems are right there. They are hard, ugly realities that we have to face, but we must face them if we are going to move forward,” she said. 

Madere followed with a brief synopsis of the history of the suffrage movement in Louisiana. She also expressed her gratitude to the other venues that hosted the exhibit. 

“It has really been a synergistic effort because oftentimes, the library that hosted the exhibit added something to it. So, it is like they wanted to be part of it and I welcome that,” Madere shared. 

Hornsby gave insight into the history of African American women’s suffrage. She shared that in addition to fighting for the right to vote, they had to fight for freedom. She also explained that many white suffrage activists were made uncomfortable by their activism. 

“When I was really able to stop and dig into suffrage, it became very clear to me how important the labor of black women in this movement was. That often is not made visible in this broader conversation,” Hornsby said. 

Afterward, the team fielded questions from the audience and thanked library staff who assisted in research for the exhibit. They also expressed their desire to fund and produce a documentary about Louisiana suffragists.  

The exhibit will be on display on the first floor of the library through Aug. 31.