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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Lucy Somerville Howorth, June 20, 22, and 23, 1975. Interview G-0028. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Women's suffrage as a basic human right

In this excerpt, Howorth explains her awareness of women's issues early on through her mother's involvement in the women's suffrage movement. For Howorth and her mother, suffrage should not be granted to women as a tool of reform, but rather as a basic human right. Howorth frequently alludes to this belief that the right to vote was fundamental to gender equality and how these beliefs shaped her career and political decisions.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Lucy Somerville Howorth, June 20, 22, and 23, 1975. Interview G-0028. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

Do you recall if your mother ever told you how she became interested in women's rights?
LUCY SOMERVILLE HOWORTH:
No. And I don't know that she pinned it to any one thing. Now, she had said that Frances Willard, who came to Mississippi and inspired Belle Kearney and inspired my mother and other women, that when she said that the women couldn't get anything done until they had the right to vote, then I think that is really what pinned my mother's mind to that point, that that was basic.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
The vote wasn't to be an instrument for further reform?
LUCY SOMERVILLE HOWORTH:
No, and that, I think, a lot of people ought to understand. It would be used as an instrument for reform, but it was a basic right. My mother had a great sense of justice and so did these other women.
CONSTANCE MYERS:
A twofold purpose, as a basic right and as an instrument.
LUCY SOMERVILLE HOWORTH:
Then, after you got it, you would use it. But she was a bit like I am, people would say something about how they are going to use the vote and I said, "Nobody asked my brothers how they could use the vote and I have the right to use mine exactly as I please."