ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS, NJ - Women from all walks of life from political leader to the owner of a Cross Fits gym and an Olympian coach gathered a crowd of some 50 men and women Thursday evening to celebrate the centennial anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment, giving women the right to vote.
The Women’s Rally was organized by Mayor Loretta Gluckstein and held at the municipal Yacht Harbor and highlighted women who spoke on how their own lives were impacted by the 1920 vote and included a story about the Tennessee Congressman whose affirmative vote for passage was impacted by his mother’s opinion.
The Rev. Debbie Cook, pastor of All Saints Episcopal Church in Navesink, traced the history of voting and slavery and the similarities and contrasts between the two, as well as the leaders including Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth who fought for freedom in both areas.
Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso spoke of her own political achievements from Mayor through freeholder to her current position, and pointed out Freeholder Lillian Burry, with whom she served at the county level. DiMaso reminded the crowd of Congressman Ed Burns, the Tennessean who campaigned against the 19th amendment until he received a letter from his mother urging him to vote in favor of it. The assemblywoman pointed out pro-suffragettes in the Volunteer State carried yellow roses, while anti women-voters sported red roses. Gluckstein presented yellow roses to each of the speakers at Wednesday’s program.
PHOTO: Freeholder Lillian Burry speaks to the assemble audience.
Burry also highlighted her rise in politics from being Matawan where she served before serving on the Colts Neck Township Committee for nine years, one as the first female Mayor, the board of freeholders, where she was the first female director, through the present time when she still serves in addition to being active in numerous other areas, including both history and education.
She pointed out that the nation must “look beyond gender,” and sexism should not be an instant qualifier for excellence. “It’s a gender, not an ideology,” she pointed out, and individuality still counts.
The most emotional speaker of the evening was Karen Hennessy, whose popular and successful Cross Fits Five Points business is located just off Hennessey Blvd., named for her grandfather. Hennessy outlined her own personal history from raising her own children in addition to nieces abandoned by their relatives, the collapse of a 17-year marriage because of the other responsibilities they took on, and “the number of times I have fallen but always came back to pick myself up.” Now, Hennessey said to the applause of the crowd, “I’m proud of myself, I’m a strong woman and I’ve had strong woman help me. Energy is contagious.” She told women to “dream bigger, empower daily.”
PHOTO: AH Mayor Lorretta Gluckstein displays proclamation, with AH Council candidate Ellen Yung O’Dwyer Woods, and Freeholder Lillian Burry
Gluckstein also read a congratulatory letter from former Mayor Helen Marchetti, the first woman mayor of Atlantic Highlands, who echoed Hennessy’s words saying it was not because she was a woman but rather because the residents knew she loved her home town and would always do the right thing for it that got her elected to the borough council, then mayor. Marchetti said it was an honor to be able to serve in the town in which she was born.
Ellen Yung O’Dwyer praised Marchetti for what she has done for the borough as well as Burry, whom she described as her hero.
Other speakers were: Tatiana Kovaleva, originally from St. Petersburg, Russia and a member of the first Russian national trampoline team in 1992 as well as four other World Championship teams and gold medal teams in three other years, as well as a 1996 individual World Championship title. Now owner of the Elite Trampoline Academy and a member of the US National Coaching staff, she was an American Coach for the 2012 Olympic games in England.
Also speaking were Councilperson Lori Hohenliter, Eileen Higgins, CEO of the Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore, and Darcey Dobens, Director of the Bayshore Family Success Center through the YMCA of Greater Monmouth County.