Catawba County News

Program Showcases Women’s Suffrage in NC

Program Showcases Women’s Suffrage in NC

Published: October 09, 2020

As the Catawba County Library partners with local organizations to mark the centennial of women’s suffrage in the United States, it’s offering programs to tell the story and invite the community’s participation.

On Wednesday, October 14, at 6 pm, the library will host a live Zoom seminar called You Have to Start a Thing, which highlights the struggles and successes of the suffrage movement in North Carolina at the turn of the 20th century. Receive the Zoom invitation by emailing

RaeLana Poteat, curator of political and social history at the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh, will present the talk, which is based on an exhibit featuring men and women involved in both sides of the fight for voting equality. The exhibit also documents the role women of color played in the movement and looks at the gradual acceptance of women into positions of political power.

The exhibit is notable for its focus on events in North Carolina, which differed from the national movement. It also provides photographic glimpses of the people who were involved and shares speeches, letters, articles, and propaganda from the period. The name of the exhibit comes from a comment by legislator Lillian Exum Clement, who said in 1921, “I want to blaze a trail for other women. I know that years from now there will be many other women in politics, but you have to start a thing.”

Catawba County’s suffrage centennial events will continue into 2021 and will include a series of presentations that put the movement into a local context. The project is supported by a grant from the United Arts Council of Catawba County. Partner organizations include the Hickory Museum of Art, Catawba Valley Community College, the Hickory Public Library, the Historical Association of Catawba County, and the League of Women Voters of the Catawba Valley.

To view a series of historical panels documenting the suffrage movement, please click here.