Seraph Young, a 23-year-old schoolteacher, made history when she cast her ballot in Salt Lake City’s municipal election on February 14, 1870. She became the first woman in the United States to vote under a women’s suffrage law.
The year 2020 marks three important anniversaries for women’s suffrage and voting rights: the 150th anniversary of Utah women’s first votes in 1870, the 100th anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment, which extended women’s suffrage across the country in 1920, and the 55th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, which outlawed racially discriminatory voting laws in 1965.
These anniversaries offer an opportunity to honor the Utah women who worked for voting rights, and those who carried their legacy forward by working for social justice in other ways. Their stories inspire us to become more engaged participants in our own communities today.
Many Utahns are surprised to hear about Utah’s trailblazing suffrage story, but it’s true – women’s first votes with unrestricted suffrage rights happened right here in Salt Lake City! Wyoming Territory was actually the first to pass a women’s suffrage law, but Utah Territory followed just two months later. Due to the timing of elections, Utah women were the first to go to the polls, a full 50 years before women’s suffrage became national law.
As the first to vote, Utah women drew national attention. Suffragists hoped that positive results would help spread women’s suffrage elsewhere. Anti-polygamists hoped that women in Utah would use their political power to end the Mormon practice of polygamy. When it became clear that was not going to happen, many reformers started lobbying Congress to take away Utah women’s voting rights in order to put an end to polygamy.
Mormon women mounted a grassroots campaign to protect their voting rights (and polygamy) by starting a newspaper, The Woman’s Exponent, sending petitions to Congress, and forging relationships with national suffrage leaders like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
But other Utah women argued that their right to vote should be taken away until polygamy ended. Eventually, Congress passed the Edmunds-Tucker Act in 1887 that revoked the voting rights of all women in Utah, regardless of their religion or marital status.
Utah suffragists organized the Utah Woman Suffrage Association (UWSA) to regain the vote, with chapters in 21 Utah counties and many more towns. In the UWSA, women (and some men) met to sing, pray, discuss current political issues, and voice their support for equal rights. They worked closely with Susan B. Anthony’s national suffrage organization.
Unlike the rest of the country, Utahns generally supported women’s voting rights. When Congress invited Utah to apply for statehood, both political parties declared their support for women’s equal suffrage in the new state.
Still, at the 1895 Utah Constitutional Convention some delegates argued that including women’s suffrage in the proposed constitution might jeopardize statehood. Suffragists across the territory sent in petitions, and the pro-suffrage argument eventually won.
After the proposed constitution was overwhelmingly approved by Utah’s male voters and accepted by Congress, Utah entered the Union as the third equal suffrage state on January 4, 1896.
In that year’s election, the first where women could vote and run for office, Utahns elected three women to the state legislature and eleven to county offices. Salt Lakers even elected Dr. Martha Hughes Cannon as a state senator over her husband on the opposing ticket!
Many Utah women continued to work for a federal suffrage amendment. They attended conventions, gathered petition signatures, and staged parades and rallies. Two women from Salt Lake City, Lovern Robertson and Minnie Quay, even joined the National Woman’s Party in picketing the White House. The Nineteenth Amendment made women’s suffrage national law on August 26, 1920.
Even then, many women were not allowed to cast ballots. Discriminatory citizenship laws made Native Americans and Asian immigrants ineligible for U.S. citizenship or voting rights, and state laws often kept people of color from the ballot box. Utah women like Alberta Henry, the Salt Lake NAACP president, continued to work for equal rights and opportunities for all people.
Other Utahns carried this legacy forward in a variety of ways. Incarnación Florez was a curandera (female healer) on Salt Lake’s west side who provided spiritual comfort and physical relief to hundreds of people without accepting payment.
Edith Melendez was a fearless leader with a soft heart who fought against police brutality and advocated for better housing, economic, and educational opportunities for Utah’s Latinx community.
This next year, let’s remember these women and resolve to make a difference, too.
Illustrations by Brooke Smart. Courtesy of Better Days 2020
Better Days 2020 is a non-profit dedicated to Utah women’s history. To learn more about Utah women’s advocates and the history of Utah women’s voting rights, visitwww.utahwomenshistory.org. Follow us on social media @betterdays2020 to stay in the loop for upcoming programs and events!
Our six west-side community councils do an outstanding job of informing their communities, gathering input and creating a distinct sense of community.
However, local community leaders recognize that we can be more effective in taking on broader challenges impacting all west-side neighborhoods when we work together.
Two years ago we revived the Westside Coalition, whose mission is to “advocate for the health, safety and quality of life of west side Salt Lake City residents.”
The Westside Coalition brings together representatives from all six west-side community councils and other community organizations, such as NeighborWorks Salt Lake, University Neighborhood Partners, Rose Park Lions Club, West View Media, River District Business Alliance, and more, to advocate for our community.
Over the past two years, the coalition has provided a west-side voice to many issues and accomplished, as a group, what individual communities might not have been able to.
For example, we successfully organized the most-attended SLC Mayoral Candidate debate, and pushed for allocation of funds for a study of a proposed year-round public market at the Utah State Fair Park. The study was completed by the Salt Lake City Redevelopment Agency, indicating viability.
The coalition also provides direct input to Envision Utah regarding Inland Port air quality and potential development impacts. We have also spoken out against the Beck St. Project, which is slated to erect 80 ft. towers through our neighborhoods, and we are supporting efforts to reduce crime along North Temple.
For more information or to get involved, find us on Facebook @westsidecoalitionslc.contact or contact Westside Coalition Chair Richard Holman at .
A major effort that happens once every 10 years is set to begin in March of 2020: the census. The purpose of the census is to count 330 million people living in the United States.
Why does the census matter to you and your community? Because the data collected is used to make crucial decisions at the federal, state and local levels that impact you and your family. It is your right and civic duty to participate in the 2020 census to make sure you’re represented and have access to important services for the next 10 years.
At its core, the census is about political representation and giving voice to every citizen, regardless of immigration or housing status, age, race, income, gender, or ability. But it’s also more than that.
For example, census data redraws school district and congressional boundaries. Increases in the population also determine how many seats our state gets in Congress. In the 2000 census, Utah lost the opportunity of receiving a 4th seat in the U.S. House of Representatives by 856 people. We didn’t get an additional seat until after the 2010 count.
Census figures also help governments and businesses make decisions about where new hospitals and fire stations, and even where the next Target should be built.
The data brings more than $5.6 billion dollars to Utah to pay for programs like Medicaid, Free and Reduced School Lunch and Pell Grants for college students. And it helps federal agencies monitor compliance with anti-discrimination laws, including the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Right Act.
The United States has been collecting census data since 1790 after our Founding Fathers put the requirement into the Constitution. They believed that the representation that comes from the census is fundamental to democracy — something they didn’t have when the original 13 colonies were still under British rule.
In 1790, census takers crossed the country on horseback and foot to take the count, although it wasn’t an inclusive survey. The census only counted free white men of a specific age, along with free white women and slaves. Such imbalances would persist over the next century, with black men and women originally being counted as three-fifths a person and indigenous people not counted at all.
Census-taking has changed a lot over time, but some communities remain difficult to count. Historically, those of African descent, Latinos and indigenous people are undercounted in each census, leaving them excluded from full participation in the democratic process.
There has been some concern over a proposal to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census. That effort was blocked by a Supreme Court decision and the question will not appear on the coming survey.
The survey will ask you questions like: how many people are living in your household and whether your home is owned or rented. Your responses help identify important trends in our society and how to support our changing and growing communities.
Completing the census in 2020 is both a political act and am important statement. It’s like raising your hand to say, “I count, and my community deserves to be heard.”
It’s also safe and private. Reponses to the census are protected by Title 13 of the United States Code. Personal information can’t be shared with any court, government agency, law enforcement or Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Census Bureau employees are also sworn for life to protect your confidentiality. Violating the law is a serious federal crime punishable by a prison term of up to five years and fines.
Therefore in 2020, take a stand and make sure you’re counted. Here’s how to participate:
Complete the census either online, by mail or phone by April 1st. Non-English and Spanish speakers can complete the census online or by phone in 14 other languages. Video and printed guides are also available in 59 other languages. If you haven’t completed the census by April 1st, a Census Bureau employee will visit your home to collect your response in-person.
Protect yourself from scams and misinformation. The Census Bureau will never ask for social security numbers, bank or credit card account numbers or for money. It is also your duty to share accurate and reliable information on social media and with your networks. Check sources before you share.
Encourage family, friends and your community to participate.
Get counted, because some people are counting on you not to participate. All it takes is 10 minutes of your time to ensure you and your community have the resources and representation needed to thrive over the next 10 years.
Are men better than women? There are some who think so, but why? Just because they’re strong, are able to get good jobs, and are usually the main income earner in their families? I could go on and on. But that's not the point.
I believe that women are underestimated and taken for granted. Women can be just as strong as men; just look at strength athlete Kristin Rhodes, who won the Strongest Woman on Earth title in 2012. She is physically stronger than many men.
And believe it or not, women can get good jobs too. For the first time in history, voters chose between two women for Salt Lake City Mayor this year. There are also a lot of women and mothers out there working to support themselves and their families.
Women can also be powerful speakers – no matter how young or old. Take for example, Emma Gonzalez, a highschool senior and survivor of the February 2012 mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida. She is a brave young woman who has spoken up for more effective gun laws in March for Our Lives rallies nation-wide.
American actress and model Yara Shahidi, and Pakastani activist Malala Yousafzai both courageously advocate for better education and equality for women.
And the latest young woman to speak out on the global scene is 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg, who wants to see a better response from world leaders to the threats of climate change.
Do you see a pattern with all these young women? They all did the right thing; they stood up for what they believe in and what is important to them.
In my 11th grade history class we did a poster on women's rights and a quote was used that I really liked, “Women deserve to be heard, not just seen.” That really stood out to me.
In the world today we have seen examples of female activists being criticized by other people. Some of the comments are very sexist. Sometimes, when young females try to speak up for what they believe is right, they are not taken seriously or get shut down.
Recently, Thunberg spoke up at the 2019 United Nations Climate Action Summit. She called out world leaders for not taking action to prevent climate change disasters, saying,”How dare you…” While she inspired many people worldwide, she was also criticized, told to “go back to school” or that she was “too young to be speaking.”
After Time Magazine named Thunberg “Person of the Year” in December, our own President Trump tweeted, ”Greta must work on her Anger Management problem, then go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend! Chill Greta, Chill!" Other critics made fun of her because she has autism (Asperger's), but let me tell you something: Autism doesn't define who you are. My own brother has it and some people say, ”What is this? Why can’t you speak? Are you even human?” I see this all around me happening to others who have mental disabilities; they are not taken seriously, or worse, they’re made fun of.
I have noticed that sexism is not only directed towards activists; it's in our own daily lives as well – like high school sports.
For example, when a member of my high school’s girls’ soccer team accidently slipped a swear word during a game, she got banned from playing in the next game. But no one really cares when a football player swears; they say, “Boys will be boys, not a big deal.”
This kind of treatment is not fair. I believe the whole American freedom of speech thing should apply equally to everyone – males and females!
In my own life, I have experienced sexist comments at school. I got push-back in my welding class, when some boys asked me questions like, “Why do you even weld? You’re not even really good at it. Isn't that more of a guy thing?” No, it's not. Yes I'm a female, but why does it matter? We can learn and weld just like men.
I have also received rude comments about my other hobby – skateboarding. I bring my skateboard to school and the boys have asked, “Do you even skate? You’re not even good because you don't know how to do any tricks.”
When I kept getting those comments, I wanted to give up on my own likes. But I learned that I don't need to care what other people say; if i like it, then i like it and should never give up.
In conclusion, I would like to say that no matter what others think, don't let them tear you down. Stand up for your rights and what you believe in. It only takes one person to help change the world. And that one person could be you.
Daise is a 16-year-old student at East High School and a participant of West View Teen Newsroom – a partnership between Glendale Library, West View Media and University Neighborhood Partners. Her last name has been omitted to protect her privacy.
Poplar Grove resident, Mike Harman, has an impressive track record helping homeless and unaccompanied youth access education as the Homeless Education Liaison for the Salt Lake City School District for the past 11 years.
He is also revered for the work he has done in other capacities to advocate for public education and further opportunity for disadvantaged students.
Harman has been with the Salt Lake City School District for 21 years. His first 10 years were as an elementary school counselor. His current stint as the Homeless Liaison was originally a one-year contract, but the previous holder of the position accepted employment elsewhere, so he stayed.
In addition to his position, he has served 12 years on the Salt Lake Education Association Executive Board, three years on the UEA Board of Directors, three years as vice president of the Salt Lake Education Association, and currently serves as the executive board liaison for the Salt Lake Teachers Association Political Action Committee.
In 2018, Harman received the Reg Weaver Human and Civil Rights Award from the National Education Association for his work to end homelessness through education.
Harman’s determination to help students reach their full potential and realize that homelessness is not an identification of an individual but simply a situation, is why he enjoys the work he does.
Harman says part of his job is to “remove barriers to attending school.” This includes navigating paperwork that requires a parent or legal guardian’s signature for unaccompanied minors, helping students access Advanced Placement courses and extracurricular activities, and providing transportation assistance.
Harman has also worked for many years leading Neighborhood House’s SOAR II Program (Summer Outdoor Activities and Recreation), which is a summer program established in 1996 for seventh and eighth graders. Students who have excelled academically and have made good choices are eligible, pending an interview and referral process.
This nine-week program’s aim is to foster a spirit of community service, while providing enriching and fun experiences for underprivileged youths.
Supported by the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation, the SOAR II summer program includes activities such as hiking, bowling, paddle boarding and trips to southern Utah, and even Washington D.C.
In his position with the district, Harman works closely with a policy passed by Congress to reduce homelessness – the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act of 1987, which was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan “to protect children’s rights.” There are four funding sources for the Mckinney-Vento Homeless Act: federal grants, Title I money, property tax, and donations.
Harman said that LGBTQ+ youths are a significant demographic of those unaccompanied and homeless student groups.
“They are not comfortable at home or are not allowed to stay because of conflicting values with their parents or guardians.” Harman says he has seen an increase of homeless and unaccompanied youth. “Times are getting harder, especially since so many people want to stay in Salt Lake City.”
Harman realizes that excessive bureaucratic red tape and long, complicated procedures make the situation more difficult for homeless youth.
“We have had a better time educating district employees to prioritize the students to get them into school … when in doubt about eligibility, just fill out the McKinney-Vento Form.”
Some of the students Mike has counseled have gone on to attend college, and secure jobs such as an attorney and dispatcher. “Not every student is going to go to college, and that’s okay. But I want people to have options in order to be successful,” he said.
Harman stresses the importance of being involved at the community level. His advice to homeless and unaccompanied youths remains reassuring: “There are resources. Find that person you can trust, whether it be a faculty member or a custodian.”
Mike Harman gave assistance to Atticus (the author of this story) when he and his sister were unaccompanied students at West High School after their parents returned to their country of origin.
A scientific report published in October 2019 in the highly regarded academic journal, “Science,” indicates that total wild bird population has decreased by 3 billion, or 29 percent, since 1970. The birds most impacted are grassland species, which have declined by over half, and shore bird species, which have declined by one third. Top reasons cited for the declining populations are loss of food source, primarily insects, and loss of habitat.
Natural Hazards Map and description (p, 10) from the Northwest Quadrant Master Plan, which highlights the extensive wetlands, and extreme seismic risk for building in the undeveloped portions of the Northwest Quadrant
Utah’s Inland Port, a massive proposal to extend industrial development into some of the most sensitive wildlife habitat areas in Utah along the south shore of the Great Salt Lake, will be devastating for the very reasons cited in the bird population report – loss of wetland and upland habitat, and decimation of insect populations.
The extensive shoreline wetlands and uplands are a breeding ground for billions of bugs, and mosquito and insect abatement is already being carried out in earnest as development in this sensitive area plows forward.
The loss of this primary food source to the millions of birds that feed in this area will be further exacerbated as upland grasslands are covered by sprawling rooftops and pavement.
The implications are global in their impact, as this ecosystem sustains one of the largest migratory routes for birds in the Western Hemisphere. These wetlands and uplands provide a resting and nesting area for hundreds of species and millions of birds each year, along with other permanent bird species such as raptors and songbirds, as well as mammals, amphibians and reptiles.
In 1928, just over 90 years ago, 80,000 acres were preserved for the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge at the northern region of the Great Salt Lake. Today, we must set our sights on a preserve of this magnitude for the other major Great Salt Lake tributary – the Jordan River.
This area of the Inland Port was long ago the Jordan River delta. And even though the present day Jordan River channel has meandered east due to the slow geomorphology of the region, at least 50 percent of the Jordan River, and much more during peak runoff, flows through the Inland Port area via the Surplus Canal. It’s all a connected web of life.
While we, as a region, are collectively working to preserve every acre and scrap of open space along the Jordan River to restore natural river functions and habitat, these efforts pale when compared to the loss of thousands and thousands of acres of prime habitat at the south shore of the Great Salt Lake now exposed to development.
Building green is not enough. Sustainable building begins with the premise, like the hippocratic oath of physicians, to “first, do no harm.”
We know factually that this is not an ideal place to build. The high water table, extreme seismic liquefaction risk, and a host of other environmental factors beyond the wildlife impact make it among the poorest quality and most expensive places to build in Utah. This is confirmed by the ongoing, extraordinary cost escalations of the State Prison now under construction.
It is, however, an ideal place to construct (conserve, restore, remediate) homes and habitat for wildlife.
Our community values and vision for the environment and conservation are clearly articulated in city plans such as Plan Salt Lake that encourage our collective efforts to “expand natural lands and watershed protection acreage…[promote] best practices in stewardship of natural lands, and…[reduce] habitat fragmentation.” The realization of this vision will be challenging, but it has never been more important.
Some will argue that current entitlement of private land for development precludes its preservation. This argument simply acknowledges a lack of imagination, innovation and resolve. We have seen large scale preservation of entitled land of this magnitude at the Swaner Preserve in Summit County, for example.
Specific tools such as transfer and acquisition of development rights, conservation easements, and others are used routinely in forward-thinking communities across the U.S. We need these tools in our sensitive land preservation tool box, and we need to use them.
If we are serious about issues like sustainability and resiliency, wildlife and habitat preservation, fiscal responsibility, reducing our environmental impact, and responding to the climate crisis, then we must explore every option to NOT build on the remaining undeveloped land north of I-80 and west of 5600 West.
Business as usual is both unrealistic and unacceptable in the twenty-first century.
This special place is not just about the birds. It is about our own future, and the world we want to leave behind. We must set our sights on the highest and best we can accomplish.
Søren Simonsen is Executive Director of the Jordan River Commission. He has worked to create livable communities and resilient places in Utah and the West for over 30 years.
Over the course of the last year I’ve been producing a documentary. The film, “Sown,” focuses on how gun violence impacts students emotionally and socially.
When I was pitching my film nearly a year ago, SpyHop’s producers board asked me what my target audience was. It's a simple question, and considering the scale of my film, it's not one that matters very much.
However, looking at these producers, I saw that for older generations this was an issue they hadn’t experienced, and further, it was alien and distant to many of them. Knowing this, I had to make something that captured the essence of America’s students honestly; a documentary that captures what may be obvious to many students, but likely unknown to others.
Cinema itself reflects our reality, perspectives, and the revelations of our lives through emotional and aesthetic communication. The documentary format is often seen as merely recording reality, but all cinema shares that. For me, documentary gave me the chance to tell the cohesive story of a generation, their struggles, and how they’ve been ignored. Using each individual’s perspective with branching and similar ideas, a narrative becomes clear, almost shockingly so.
Such was the case for my interviews. Each student came to similar sentiments, ideas, and unrest from their experiences. Even without the same questions, students were quick to mention how events like Parkland impacted them, their isolation from government action, and the various ways it has all become normalized for them.
Editing down our rough cut from the near five hours of interview footage we had was difficult. Each student put into words the nuanced insecurities we feel every day as students because of gun violence. If I am to be completely honest, the editing process of this film was consistently depressing. Few subjects expressed any hope for change, and sadly their sentiments seem to be correct for now.
After the premiere for my film at Rose Wagner Theatre in November, a viewer told me that my specific interview subjects were the only ones who could’ve told such an honest story, but I disagree. The experiences I showcased in my film could be told by most contemporary American students.
My school has been subject to several incidents involving guns this year, and we are not even halfway through our school year. This may be shocking to some, but the reality is that for most students this is rather common.
Most students in the nation have had some encounter with gun violence, legitimate or otherwise. Threats, drills, and lockdowns are more commonplace now than we may like to admit. We are in a “post-Columbine” world, where the anomalies in our safety and security are no longer exceptions but expectations.
As a high school student affected by threats of gun violence, I want to encourage common sense gun reform, but it’s up to those who have the power to change things – our elected officials, adult voters, and consumers – to consider our perspective and take action.
It may be inconvenient or difficult, but I believe the essence of our humanity is stepping up when we don’t have to, and helping others in the ways they can’t help themselves.
Calvin Mumm is a resident of Fairpark and a senior at West High. He made his film, “Sown,” as part of SpyHop’s Pitchnic Program and is currently applying to college film programs.
Many parents get frustrated and angry over their children’s behavior. Children can be a real challenge with behaviors ranging from whining, teasing, tantrums, ignoring, sibling rivalry, to saying “no,” back-talking, being defiant, and worse, doing horrible things that seem cold and cruel; things that cause parents to think, “How could you do this to me?”
Consider this. Most unwanted behaviors are symptoms of a deeper issue. Misbehavior is not random. There is a reason for everything children do. Once we understand what drives their behavior, then we can understand how to change it.
All children are born with two emotional needs that must be met. These needs are wired into every child’s brain, although the child is not consciously aware of it. Every child craves to have these needs met. They can’t help but seek after them. If parents meet these needs in positive ways, misbehavior decreases and cooperation increases. Here are the two needs: 1) The need for a sense of belonging, and 2) The need for a sense of personal power.
Let’s look at the need to feel a sense of belonging. To a child, belonging means to feel important, noticed, included, accepted and loved. Each one yearns for his parent’s undivided attention and approval. When a child does not feel a sense of belonging, he feels ignored, left out and rejected, and a child cannot bear to feel that way. So even though a child is not consciously aware of it, he is constantly looking for ways to feel like he belongs.
If a child does not feel a sense of belonging, he will go after it on his own. He will discover that whining, teasing, acting helpless, interrupting, and other negative attention-getting behaviors will get the attention he requires.
A sense of personal power means to feel significant, empowered, and have the freedom to choose. That’s why children love to explore and experiment – and get into mischief. It’s how they start to become independent, and ultimately, isn’t that what we want them to become: independent, able to think for themselves and take care of themselves? That starts with the need for personal power.
If a child does not feel a sense of personal power, she will go after it, and the easiest way to feel personal power is to simply say “no” to a request or demand. When she discovers that refusing to obey brings a feeling of personal power, she will repeat that behavior. Choosing to obey is the one thing she has complete control over no matter what her age.
If we meet these two powerful needs in positive ways, children have no reason to meet these needs on their own, and behavior improves.
One of the most effective ways to meet these two emotional needs is to spend one-on-one time with each child. Here’s the ideal way to use this skill. Spend at least 15 minutes of uninterrupted time everyday with each of your children, doing what your child wants to do.
This gives them what they most desperately want from you: your complete attention. If they can get that, their negative attention-seeking behaviors are no longer needed.
Spending personal time with each child also helps meet their need to feel a sense of personal power. Personal power is the freedom to choose. When you allow the child to choose the activity, you reduce the child’s desire to meet that need in negative ways.
I asked my 5-year old grandson what he wanted just the two of us to do together. He wanted to go to the park. So we went. “Look at me, grandpa. Come over here, grandpa. Push me, grandpa.” He had my full attention with no competition from his siblings. At one point, he looked up and me and said, “I’m the boss of you, huh, grandpa.” I had to smile because I knew I was meeting his two emotional needs.
Parents in my parenting workshops have reported that after only two or three days of spending one-on-one time with their children, they noticed a positive change in their children’s behavior. I think you will too.
Richard O’Keef is a long-time resident of the Westpointe community, father of six children, and has 18 grandchildren. He is the author of 3-Step Parenting – How to Replace Misbehavior with Cooperation (Available on Amazon). He teaches parenting workshops in Salt Lake City and can be reached at .