The melody of “Amazing Grace” echoed softly across Harmony Grove Church’s cemetery as the rain began to lightly spatter across the gravel and gravestones Monday morning.
Led by Pat Stump, co-president of the American Association of University Women, 20 women with umbrellas, picket signs and yellow flowers in hand marched two by two towards the graves.
Like their ancestors before them, the women of AAUW would march in honor of their right to vote, rain or shine.
No words were spoken as each member of the AAUW approached a grave marked by two vases of flowers, a flash of color in an otherwise wet, gray graveyard.
Ruthie Right leaned over and patted the top of the tombstone of one of California’s pioneer suffragettes, Laura DeForce Gordon.
Gordon, a Lodi resident in the early 1900s, has become somewhat of a historical icon for Lodi AAUW members.
At her gravesite Monday, 15 women read off facts about Gordon, who during her lifetime paved the way for women to be able to vote, practice law and even become reporters.
Among her various accomplishments, Gordon was the first female lawyer in California and the first woman in the state to run a daily newspaper — The Stockton Daily Leader.
In conjunction with celebrating Gordon’s life work, AAUW members celebrated the vote for women’s right to vote, which took place 100 years ago Monday.
On Oct. 10, 1911, men across the state of California took to the voting booths to vote for or against their wives’, sisters’ and mothers’ ability to vote.
California was the sixth state to pass women’s suffrage, ahead of states famous for the suffrage movement like New York and Illinois.
Lodi AAUW member Suga Ann Moriwaki said women like Gordon led the charge in having the nation accept a new era of equality.
Moriwaki added that by allowing women to vote, a new type of diversity was brought to the voting booths, despite the fact that many men at the time did not think women’s ideas or beliefs were entirely credible.
Once the dedication ceremony at Gordon’s grave was completed, the group of women picked up their signs and marched together back out of the cemetery, some humming along to the tune “Oh Dear, What Can the Matter Be?”
Gathering under a tree to shelter themselves from the rain and sip some coffee, AAUW members said even though they were glad to celebrate 100 years of voting rights, equality between men and women still had a ways to go.
Pay equity, for example, was an issue many of the women at Monday’s event said still needed to be resolved.
AAUW member Sally Spenker said inequality in pay has been allowed to be passed down through generations and that even though women have fought against it, it is a problem that is still prevalent in today’s society.
“We have made some progress,” she said. “But we need to make more strides in the right direction.”