New Monument Celebrates 100 Years of Women’s Suffrage


   On October 31st, outside of the YMCA near the bike path, the Rockford Women’s Suffrage Monument was revealed to the public. The monument, with about a year and a half in the making, was the work of over 100 people.

   “The Women’s Suffrage Centennial Committee was a coalition of women from 13 different organizations,” said committee member Mrs. Patricia Stadelman, who helped create the new monument. “[Everyone brought] a great amount of talent, creativity, and energy to the entire project.”

   The monument was a part of what was going to be a year-long celebration of Women’s Suffrage. However, in a theme quite consistent for this year, COVID-19 changed that. Meetings, workshops, and community events were put on hold, cancelled, or sized down. Originally the sculpture was supposed to be unveiled on August 18th, 2020, the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which allowed women to vote. Instead, the unveiling was on October 31st.

   “We were highly focused on completing this project in 2020 and before the November election,” said Stadelman. “We chose October 31st for the dedication because it was three days before the election, and [we] thought it was important to not only dedicate [the monument] on this date, but to remind people of the importance of voting.”  

   The monument has four main parts: the panels, the crown, the encircling ribbon, and the base. The three panels are called “Kate, Constance, and the Kids”. Kate refers to Kate F. O’Connor, an original Rockford Suffragist in the early part of the 20th century. Constance is Dr. Constance ‘Connie’ Goode, a teacher who was chosen to represent the women of color in Rockford in the 1960s. She advocated for the right for all people of all races to be able to vote. “The Kids” panel is a tribute to future female voters. The crown is a large women’s symbol done in mirrored pieces to “reflect women’s strength.” The encircling ribbon uses the colors white, purple, and yellow throughout the sculpture; these colors can be seen being worn by the original suffragists. White represents the purity of the cause, purple represents loyalty, and yellow represents hope.

   The base of the monument is three-sided. Thirty-six ratification stars encircle the base, representing the 36 states needed to ratify the amendment that allowed women to vote. The stars and decorations on the base were made by volunteers. There are also portraits of 32 “foundational women” who worked for the common good and made our nation what it is today.

   “This monument is important because it addresses gender and race inequality in a meaningful way,” said Ms. Mickey Swart, English teacher and advisor to Guilford’s Young Women’s Leadership Organization. “It’s a notable exposition of recent women’s history in the United States, and the fact that it addresses race as well as gender makes it more significant.”

   The next step is a community project creating mosaic benches, which could possibly be finished sometime next spring. The benches will be installed around the monument, turning it into a plaza.

   “We want everyone to enjoy and learn from this sculpture,” said Stadelman. “There were so many women who struggled and sacrificed for the right to vote. We wanted to pay tribute to the history of the Women’s Suffrage Movement, honor the local women who have made an impact in our community, and inspire future voters!”