“Women worked hard to get the vote. They persisted in times of struggle and never ceased using their voices to affect change,” said Dr. Jacquelyn Litt, Dean of Douglass Residential College.
Jacquelyn Litt, Professor of Sociology and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, received the Rutgers Leaders in Faculty Diversity in recognition of her leadership in building new opportunities for students at Douglass to share diverse perspectives in a safe and inclusive environment. Litt was honored in 2016 with a Joint Legislative Resolution from the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey, honoring her research on women’s issues that have made a positive impact on the lives of women and children and her leadership of Douglass Residential College
Douglass, the women’s college at Rutgers University–New Brunswick, has long been a presence in the New Jersey women’s movement. The founding of the College coincides closely with the nineteenth amendment. Last year the College celebrated its own centennial, reflecting on a century as a leader in women’s education. For Dean Litt, remembering the accomplishments of women throughout the past 100 years is a way to look towards the future.
On Friday, November 1, 2019, Douglass hosted New Jersey Women Make History: The 2019 New Jersey History Conference to recognize New Jersey women leaders.
Women’s persistence—in the past, present, and future—is something we reflect on every day at Douglass. From Julia Baxter Bates NJC’38, the first African American woman to graduate from the New Jersey College for Women, to Carol T. Christ DC’66, the first woman Chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley, to Chief Justice Cheri Beasley DC’88, the first African American woman to serve as Chief Justice of The North Carolina Supreme Court, we celebrate Douglass women who have broken down historical barriers.
Even with the success women have had at the polls, we can’t stop pushing forward. We need diverse voters. It is essential that we ensure the ballot box is occupied by women of all identities—that’s how we safeguard democracy. It’s not enough that it’s legal on paper. Our voting process needs to encourage, celebrate, and facilitate voting from all communities. It is our task to continue increasing the accessibility of the system—a task that begins with each of us getting out to vote.
I’m thrilled that Douglass is partnering with the New Jersey Historical Commission to continue these conversations at the conference. In New Jersey, women from all different backgrounds persisted to challenge the status quo. At the conference, we’ll come together to honor their political and cultural impact.
View the program for the 2019 New Jersey History Conference: New Jersey Women Make History
Forward through the Darkness, Forward into Light.
The year 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, the largest expansion of democracy in U.S. history. While adding millions to the voting roles, the struggle to include African Americans and other marginalized communities continues. This article is part of a centennial series of reflections by Rutgers scholars on the impact of women’s right to vote.