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West Virginia Suffragist Memorial Committee seeking input for Capitol grounds memorial

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia Suffragist Memorial Committee is seeking public input on the design and construction of a memorial on the State Capitol grounds to celebrate West Virginia’s role in securing the right of women to vote.

The committee, whose nine members are appointed by Gov. Jim Justice and was established in 2021 by the West Virginia Legislature, hopes to have a West Virginia Women’s Suffrage Memorial on the grounds by 2024.

West Virginia Suffragist Memorial Committee Co-Chair Renate Pore told MetroNews that the memorial should be a permanent reminder of the impact of the suffragists on West Virginia’s past, present, and future. She also noted the fact that there is not much women’s representation in memorials on the current ground.

Renate Pore

“Men and women, they worked for over 70 years from when they first asked for the vote and when they finally got it. It was a long, hard fight. People really devoted themselves to it, some people gave their entire lives to it,” Pore said.

Pore said 2020 was the 100th anniversary of the women’s right to vote but celebrations and memorials were not able to happen due to COVID-19. She said in that period, she was able to learn more about the Suffragist movement memorials across the county. Pore said a lot of them are women in 19th-century clothes, holding banners but her committee is open to anything.

“A memorial doesn’t have to be a bronze statue, it can be something else. but it should inspire people, it should educate people. There are a whole variety of things that could be done,” Pore said.

Pore said by this fall, the committee hopes to gather enough public input to potentially make a decision and find a West Virginia artist to begin preparation. According to the committee’s website, 2023 is the year it hopes to identify a location on the grounds and begin and complete construction of the memorial with an early 2024 opening.

Support for the Committee is provided by the Herbert Henderson Office of Minority Affairs (HHOMA) and the West Virginia Women’s Commission. Pore said the committee will also be doing fundraising later in 2022 for the memorial.

To submit ideas, request a virtual or in-person presentation, obtain additional information, printed materials, or to become a sponsor, contact Pore at renatepore@gmail.com or 304-444-9681. The committee’s website is westvirginiasuffragistmemorial.com.

“We want to hear from the public. We’d like to know what they think and the ideas they have,” Pore said.

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