A bill to create a monument celebrating the women’s suffrage movement is headed to the President’s desk. The Every Word We Utter Monument designed by Loveland sculptor Jane DeDecker and championed by Colorado's congressional delegation passed the Senate on Thursday.
This would be the first outdoor monument in Washington, D.C. to commemorate women’s fight to gain the right to vote.
“We need to build monuments that tell the equitable, collaborative, and complex stories of our shared American experience,” artist DeDecker said. “The sacrifices that the suffragists made in securing the right to vote for women cannot be forgotten and must be celebrated.”
DeDecker came up with the idea when she saw a call for a commission to mark the 19th Amendment in New York City.
She didn’t get that job, but she and Jody Shadduck-McNally, president of the Every Word We Utter Monument Board, turned an eye towards the nation’s capital and the Colorado congressional delegation, where they found willing supporters. The bill was co-sponsored by every member of the Colorado delegation.
“I see the suffragists as founders in exactly the same way as any of the men who wrote the Constitution––they challenged Americans to make our country what it ought to be,” Sen. Michael Bennet said.
He and Republican Sen. Cory Gardner sponsored the bill in that chamber.
Gardner said he looks “forward to the day where women from all over the world will be inspired by the sculpture in our nation’s capital honoring the generations of women whose determination guaranteed women the right to vote.”
Their bill passed the House in February and President Donald Trump tweeted in August that he wanted to sign it into law. But it wasn’t until the waning days of the 116th Congress, a few months after the 100th anniversary of the adoption of the 19th Amendment, that the Senate took up the measure.
The memorial’s design includes statues of Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sojourner Truth and Ida B. Wells, among others. Its name comes from a letter Stanton sent to another suffragist, in which she wrote, “Every word we utter, every act we perform, waft unto innumerable circles, beyond.”
Democratic Rep. Joe Neguse led the effort in the House, introducing the bill in his second week in office. He stressed the project’s local roots. “It is a prime example of what we can accomplish when Colorado’s ingenuity and passion are put to work,” he said.
Colorado holds a special place in the history of women’s suffrage; it was the first state to award women the right to vote through a popular referendum.
Even after this bill gets signed into law, there will still be some hurdles monument supporters will have to clear with the National Capital Memorial Advisory Commission in Washington, D.C. Those include finding a site for the outdoor memorial, getting approval for the final design and fundraising.