Our First Meeting: Silk Stockings and Ballot Boxes
On Thursday,March 4, the Louisiana Women and Politics book group met for the first time. The meeting was held in the Newcomb College Center for Research on Women’s newly decorated Anna Many Lounge. The discussion of Pam Tyler’s Silk Stockings and Ballot Boxes was facilitated by Prof. Sally J. Kenney. For this first meeting, the group of about 15 women and one man introduced themselves and discussed their past or present alliances with some of the groups mentioned in Tyler’s book. When Prof. Kenney asked the group to go around the circle and discuss what lessons they learned from the book. Kenney said that one of the important lessson she garned from the book was the concept of “evolve or die.” Organizations change as the times change. The entire group agreed to this sentiment and used examples from their dealings with their own political women’s organizations in New Orleans. The IWO and Leauge of Women Voters were mentioned as groups that are seeking younger members, and the idea was discussed that perhaps the influx of the recent female transplants could be ripe with possibilities for new members.
Many members commented on how proud they felt of Newcomb College and the graduates who went on to become some of New Orleans’ most powerful advocates for women’s rights, voting rights, and good government. There was some discussion about how some of these women’s causes reflected their old southern aristocratic upbringing and thus led to a less than progressive stance on important issues, such as state rights vs federal rights. As can be seen in the chapter about the Gordon sisters, their fight for fair voting was an important step for women in Louisiana politcs , but Jean Gordon was opposed to the federal government’s inclusion of black women voters. She strongly advocated for states rights in this, and she eventually lost.
Many readers enjoyed the chapter on Hilda Phillips Hammond and her one cause to action, the ousting of Huey P. Long. Hammond’s determination to expose Long as a criminal and a liar took her on a political journey that no woman in the United States had ever experienced. Her bravery in the face of insummountable odds is inspirational to all involved in grassroots organizations.
About half way into our session,the author, Pam Tyler, joined the group and discussed the book and answered questions about how women in Louisisana play a role in politics. Often times women seem to be ambivalent about politics but due to the local grassroots efforts to rebuild the city, groups such as Women of the Storm and Levees.org have reignited women to work together in non-partisian ways to achieve successful outcomes for New Orleans.
The group disbanded after an hour and a half of discussion, and many had their books inscribed by the author.
Entry filed under: Vorhoff library. Tags: gordon sisters, Jean Gordon, Leauge of Women Voters, Louisiana politics, Nadine Vorhoff Library, Newcomb College, Newcomb College Center for Research on Women, Newcomb College Institute, women in politics.