Cumberland to celebrate women suffrage pioneers

More than 50 years before America’s women won the right to vote in 1920, a group of intrepid Cumberland County women were already on the front lines of a battle that would change the nation forever.

As Americans prepare to mark the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, few people — even here in our county — realize that some of the earliest pioneers in the women’s suffrage movement were Cumberland County residents.

It’s a proud history that began in Vineland in 1868 when a bold woman named Portia Gage went to the male-only polls and attempted to vote. She was turned away but not deterred. Months later, she returned even more determined along with nearly 200 other local women who brought their own ballot box with them.

These Cumberland County women were way ahead of their time, and they helped set the stage for a national movement that would take decades to succeed. Their resolve to make every adult in the community eligible to vote is the inspiration behind a countywide celebration organized by the Cumberland County Clerk’s Office called Women Vote 100.

I’m especially looking forward to the involvement of young people in the county because they’re the latest generation to benefit from the efforts of these women. The Clerk’s Office is sponsoring two competitions, a poster contest and an essay contest, for any student in 5th through 8th grade (rules and deadlines at Winners will be published and featured in a special 2020 calendar with key voting and election related dates for county residents.

We’re also planning a Women Vote 100 fundraising gala to mark the anniversary and to raise money for a new scholarship. Details to come.

It’s a proud and exciting time to be a Cumberland County resident.

Celeste M. Riley


Cumberland County Clerk

Demand honesty, trust

I believe that trust is the foundation of any good relationship. If you don’t believe a person, or if that person has beliefs and opinions that are far beyond the acceptable societal norms or morality, then this is a really big problem. If that person is promoting disinformation and is in a position of power and influence, then this is very dangerous.

Unfortunately, we are experiencing mistrust, untruths and made up information as facts. Many appropriately speak up in this regard, but unfortunately many do not. If this continues, it will become more difficult to separate fact from fiction. I am very concerned as to where we are all headed. It seems to me that this path is not at all good and is in fact extremely dangerous.

As an older person in the twilight of my life, I can remember a time when we could respectfully disagree with each other. It seems that now you must be on one side or another where disagreement or criticism is loudly scorned. We are daily confronted with fantasy, lies and disinformation. It seems as if it’s getting to the point where some of us don’t know what to believe any more.

When our leaders use their bully pulpit to spread lies and disinformation, it’s never in our best interest and it’s almost always self-serving. We need to call out lies, point fingers and get to the truth again. Fiction or fantasy may be entertaining for some, but facts and truths are the foundation of any genuine relationship or for society in general.

Don’t allow persons in power to lead us down this dark path of misinformation. Let us get back to fact and truth telling and believing one another again. Let’s speak up when we hear unsubstantiated statements and always question when we think we’re being lied to. Let’s not be complacent any longer. If we don’t change from this dangerous path we are on and do it soon, then I fear that we will be adversely changed forever.

Steve Montagino


Load comments