About the National Archives

Welcome Remarks for "One Woman, One Vote": 25th Anniversary Screening

McGowan Theater, National Archives Building, Washington, DC
January 23, 2020

Good evening, and welcome to the William G. McGowan Theater at the National Archives. I’m Debra Steidel Wall, Deputy Archivist of the United States, and I’m pleased you could join us for our 25th-anniversary screening and discussion of the PBS documentary One Woman, One Vote.

We present this program in partnership with the One Woman, One Vote Film Festival, and the 2020 Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission, and we thank them for their support.

One Woman, One Vote is a collaboration with national organizations and cultural institutions to present films, concerts, exhibitions, and public events in honor of the centennial of the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.

We are dedicating this evening’s program to the late journalist, bestselling author, and historian Cokie Roberts, who graced this stage many, many times over the years. Cokie was a great friend to the National Archives, served on the Board of the National Archives Foundation, and worked tirelessly on behalf of National Archives education and outreach activities. She is an inspiration to us all and is greatly missed.

Over the course of her five-decade career, Cokie documented the stories of countless women in U.S. history. She illuminated their important legacies through her regular appearances on television and public radio, by writing numerous best-selling books, and engaging in spirited discussions about our nation’s heritage.

In the fall of 2019, the National Archives Foundation established a new research fund to honor Cokie’s commitment to shining light on the untold stories of women. The Cokie Roberts Research Fund for Women’s History will support future historians, journalists, and students who use the records of the National Archives to research women's history. You can find more information on the National Archives Foundation’s website, archivesfoundation.org.

Nearly three years ago, looking forward to the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, Congress passed legislation to create the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission. I am pleased to be a commissioner, and I want to share with you something that the commission is very excited about. We have been working with the United States Mint to develop a medal to mark the centennial, and in March we will unveil the designs for this medal in a ceremony hosted by the United States Mint and the Treasury Department.

Here at the National Archives, our own observance of the centennial includes a series of programs, such as tonight’s screening, and our exhibit in the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery upstairs, Rightfully Hers: American Women and the Vote. I’m sure you are aware of the news over last weekend about alterations to a photograph displayed outside the entrance to the exhibit. The image of the 2017 Women’s March was paired with a photo of the 1913 suffrage march in a lenticular display.

On Saturday afternoon we removed the display, and on Sunday we put up a photograph of the 1913 event and placed an apology letter in a stanchion. Yesterday we added the unaltered image of the 2017 march, placing it side-by-side with one from 1913. We are having the original lenticular display re-fabricated without the alterations, and we will install it in its original location as soon as it is available.

As we said in the letter of apology, we are and have always been completely committed to preserving our archival holdings, without alteration. We are undergoing a thorough review of our exhibit policies and procedures so that this does not happen again.

I hope you will visit the Rightfully Hers exhibit—the stories told there of the road to the 19th Amendment and of the women who fought to secure voting rights are well worth learning.

* * *

Tonight’s film, One Woman, One Vote, documents the 70-year struggle for woman suffrage and was first aired in 1995. It is narrated by Susan Sarandon and has a new introduction by U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The film is produced by Ruth Pollak and co-produced by Felicia Widmann.

In May, a nationwide screening of the film in 20 cities will be presented in collaboration with the Congressional Women's Suffrage Centennial Commission, and PBS will rebroadcast One Woman One Vote beginning in June.

This evening, we will begin with the short trailer for the film, followed by a panel discussion, and then we will view the entire film.

Our panel’s moderator is Lottie Joiner, editor-in-chief of The Crisis magazine, and she will be joined by Rebecca Boggs Roberts, a journalist, radio show host, and author of Suffragists in Washington DC: The 1913 Parade and the Fight for the Vote; and Tsi-tsi-ki Felix, host of the daily news and Sunday political talk show on Entravision.

Now we’ll see the trailer for One Woman One Vote, after which the panelists will take their seats on stage.