The AAUW Corpus Christi Branch held a meeting on Saturday, November 5, at the YWCA, starting at 10:30 a.m. We had 24 members and guests in attendance, plus two members who attended virtually by Zoom. Dr. Catherine Cox, President, opened the meeting with a welcome and an introduction of guests.
Kelly Gonzalez, Community Outreach Chair, introduced our speaker, Dr. Robert Wooster, a retired Regents Professor of History from Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi, where he taught for 35 years. In addition to being an author, editor, or co-editor of 13 books and over 90 book reviews, Dr. Wooster is an active member of our AAUW Corpus Christi Branch.
Before beginning his presentation, Dr. Wooster mentioned how costly and challenging it is for students to pay for their education today, as compared to decades ago when the state funded over 75% of higher education costs. That is why our Branch efforts to provide scholarships to local students is so important, and he commended the Branch for its continued involvement in awarding scholarships.
Dr. Wooster gave a lively and enlightening presentation on “Passing Women’s Suffrage in Texas.” A timeline of relevant events started with a rejection to a proposal granting women the right to vote at an 1869 state constitutional convention. Dr. Wooster discussed the political interactions of women’s suffrage, the prohibition movement, the progressive movement, and race/ethnicity prejudices. Leaders of the Texas Woman Suffrage Association included Minnie Fisher Cunningham who was a superb organizer and politician. In 1918, the Texas legislature voted, by a simple majority, to give women the right to vote in primary elections, which was an effective step forward, since most state elections at that time were determined in the Democratic primaries. Finally, on June 4, 1919, the U.S. Congress passed the 19th amendment, which then had to be ratified by 2/3 of the states. Texas held a special legislative session on June 28, 1919, becoming the ninth state in the Union, and the first state in the South, to ratify the 19th amendment. It took another year to obtain the 2/3 state votes for the 19th amendment to become a part of the U.S. Constitution on August 19, 1920, when Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the amendment.
After a hearty round of applause, Dr. Catherine Cox and Kelly Gonzalez thanked Dr. Wooster for his informative presentation, and they provided a speaker’s gift. Dr. Vickie Natale, Finance Officer, reminded members that the Branch worked in collaboration with the League of Women Voters in 2019-2020 to prepare a display about Women’s Suffrage in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment. The display has recently been loaned to the Nueces County Historical Society who has exhibited the panels at the Nueces County Courthouse. Members are encouraged to make a trip to the Courthouse to view the exhibit, if you have not already done so.
Story and Photo by Dr. Vickie Natale