February 14th Marks the Birth of the League of Women Voters

February seems like such a boring month. In astrology, it is represented by a fish. It’s usually a cold month with too many more weeks of bad weather conditions that sometimes inconvenience us. While February 2017 has been unusually warm in Maryland, elsewhere there have been tragic floods, frigid temperatures, and snow or rain in abundance. Most years we spend this month looking forward to March and the promise of spring. But perhaps we should reconsider.

February is Black History month, when we celebrate such Americans as Ida B. Wells, a founder of the NAACP and journalist who chronicled in scathing terms the history of mistreatment of Black Americans. The Ida B. Wells award is conferred by the National Association of Black Journalists and the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University to journalists who have worked to increase opportunities for Black journalists.

We celebrate Valentine’s Day, established on February 14th because, it is alleged, this is the day when birds traditionally begin to find their mates for the spring season. There are many references to various stories of Saints Valentine from which one
can pick the story one prefers. The tradition of sending valentine cards seems to have originated in England in the mid-18th century.

For League members, February 14th is the anniversary of our founding, our 97th birthday this year. Thanks to Carrie Chapman Catt we have a strong organization with the purpose of intelligent voting. To that end we have maintained our nonpartisanship, providing voters with information about candidates in the candidates own words.

The pictures of Mrs. Catt most often available make her look like someone from two centuries ago, when in fact she lived until March 1947, was a close friend of Eleanor Roosevelt, and became a peace activist in her later years. In 1933 she sent to Adolph Hitler a letter from the Protest Committee of Non-Jewish Women Against the Persecution of Jews in Germany and continually campaigned for the admittance of Jews to the United States who were being persecuted in Europe. She was also a staunch supporter of the United Nations.

Perhaps we should re-evaluate our misgivings about February when there is so much to celebrate. Nevertheless, we will no doubt still look forward to spring.

In League, Barbara Schnackenberg and Nancy Soreng LWVMD Co-Presidents