Keeping the Movement Afloat
Photos by Toni LeBel, Pasadena Celebrates 2020 Outwalkers
Festivities celebrating the 100th anniversary of the women’s right to vote are in full swing. The year’s centennial celebrations officially kicked off on January 1, 2020, when the women’s suffrage celebration float, “Years of Hope, Years of Courage” debuted in the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California, with two proud NAWBO members marching along its side—Dawn Dyer, NAWBO-Ventura County Public Policy Director, and Brenda Terzian, NAWBO-Ventura County Member of the Year in 2019. “The minute I had the opportunity, I gave my $1,000 to walk and booked my hotel room near the parade route,” says Brenda. She and Dawn were among 100 “out-marchers” who donned historic suffrage sashes and dressed in all white—from bonnets to sneakers donated by Skechers—and made the 5-mile trek down Colorado Boulevard.
Dawn is proud to have had three generations walk in the Tournament of Roses parade. Her daughter walked with her alongside the suffrage float, and her mom walked years ago as her high school’s majorette. Brenda was also supported by her husband and daughter who cheered her on from the sidelines—similar to scenes played out decades ago when floats and parades symbolized the suffrage movement.
This year’s float featured a 30-foot Statue of Liberty holding the tablet of the 19th Amendment. It was covered in yellow roses, a symbol of the suffrage movement. It was so impressive, it won the Theme Award for most outstanding presentation of the Rose Parade Theme. Yet, as remarkable as the float was, it was in danger of being scrapped from the parade altogether due to insufficient funds. In mid-2019, parade organizers asked Dawn to help fundraise after learning of her involvement in Ventura County Vision 2020—a year of events celebrating women’s suffrage.
Dawn wasted no time getting involved, knowing the potential impact the Rose Parade float could have on young women. “When I started my real estate career in 1985, I was denied credit in my own name,” she explains. “As the single mother of two, being respected in business was critical to my family’s survival. I’m excited to use this moment in ‘herstory’ to educate and engage women to fully participate in our democratic processes.”
It’s Dawn and Brenda’s wish that centennial events like the Rose Parade suffrage float will reinforce the importance of voting. “The Year of the Woman was in 2018, yet women still only hold 24 percent of Congress and less than 30 percent of Statewide Legislative and Executive positions nationwide,” says Dawn. “To impact change, our goal is to not only educate, but to have a 100 percent registration of voters in Ventura County.”
In true suffragists’ spirit, Dawn and Brenda utilized the parade as an opening act to a plethora of centennial celebrations. Through the Vision 2020 Committee, they’ll continue educating communities throughout Ventura County in a play Dawn wrote titled, “Use Your Voice! Use Your Vote!” It depicts the 72-year-long struggle for the right to vote through suffrage trailblazers, including Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Alice Paul (played by Brenda).
On January 11, aka Alice Paul’s birthday, Brenda was touched to portray her triumphant story at an event with the American Association of University Women. “A lot of people don’t realize that suffragists actually suffered, and were tortured for nine months in prison,” shares Brenda. “When we were young, that wasn’t taught in school.”
Throughout this year, Vision 2020 Committee will host educational and voter registration events and partner with organizations like the League of Women Voters, Girl Scouts, Ventura Film Festival, Ojai Independence Day Parade and the Museum of Ventura County where celebrations are planned for August 23, to commemorate the ratification of the 19th Amendment in California.
“It will be a busy year, but I’m excited to be involved in opportunities like the play and the suffrage float to inform and inspire women of all ages to vote,” says Dawn. And a year that’s guided by the Rose Parade float’s message: “Upon their shoulders, we won the vote. Upon our shoulders, we protect the vote.”
NAWBO-Ventura County Members Dawn Dyer (right) and Brenda Terzian, marched with the women’s suffrage celebration float, “Years of Hope, Years of Courage,” which won the best theme award on New Year’s Day in the Tournament of Roses Parade.