WEST CHESTER, PA — Despite the heavy rain on Sunday, elected officials, community leaders, and residents joined the Chester County Fund for Women and Girls (CCFWG), West Chester Public Arts Commission (PAC), and Zukin Properties to unveil the Women’s Suffrage Mural at 119 E. Market Street in West Chester, PA.
The mural honors the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which granted many women the right to vote, and celebrates the suffrage movement of the past, present and future. Congresswoman Chrissy Houlahan, Chair of Chester County Commissioners Marian Moskowitz, Pam Grey of the League of Women Voters, Cheryl Miles of Black Women of Chester County in Action (BWCCA), Althea Mae Hutchinson of CCFWG’s GirlGov Chester County program, Jimmer Breen of PAC, mural artist Kendra Beitzel, and CCFWG Board Chair Judi Bell shared remarks to honor the occasion.
“In the spirit of the Suffragists who braved so much more, we are here carrying the message to vote at such a critical time,” Michelle Legaspi Sánchez, Executive Director of CCFWG, reminded the crowd. “Though a public art project is new for CCFWG, what is not new is being a beacon for gender equity. We leverage our strengths – philanthropy, advocacy, community partnerships, educating young women – and the strengths of those who have come before us to help move women and girls forward. That is why we are so proud to be here presenting this beautiful mural to our community as it captures it all.”
Cheryl Miles, Founder of BWCCA, added, “Our time is now. We have a right, a privilege and a responsibility to use our voice, vote and become politically active. We must boldly carry the banner of the Women’s Suffrage Movement because the fight for the right to vote is not over…This mural is an awesome reminder of the tenacity of the women who fought to obtain our right to vote. It is a reminder of our commitment to ensure that everyone’s voice must be heard. And it is a reminder of our responsibility to train up future women leaders in the political process in order to pass the baton and legacy of the power of the vote.”
The PAC’s “Call for Art ” received several mural design submissions, and ultimately, the mural selection committee chose Kendra Beitzel’s design. Kendra designed the mural to embrace the history of women’s suffrage and draw passersby in with bold and engaging imagery, so that the “audience can see themselves” represented in the mural.
Althea Mae Hutchinson, a senior at B. Reed Henderson High School and a member of CCFWG’s GirlGov Chester County program, shared her impressions as a young woman. “Art is a necessity – a necessity of both history and of change. And as a student of both, I recognize that the past and the future are clearly linked, in visual language most of all. In front of us here is a visual representation of our history and the changes it has wrought. A representation of growth and power drawn in bold color and line. And with art such as this, art that displays our histories, and our progresses, so clearly, I cannot help but believe that the future ahead of us is a colorful, intersectional, and bright one.”
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