Colorado State Capitol to Shine for Voting Rights Centennial

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

DENVER - The Colorado State Capitol will light up in purple and gold on Wednesday night, August 26, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the largest voting-rights expansion in U.S. history. Along with an official proclamation creating “Forward into Light, Women’s Vote Centennial Day,” the evening caps the Women’s Vote Centennial // Colorado 2020, a yearlong statewide effort to examine the importance of voting in our democracy. It is a collaboration between the Governor’s Women’s Vote Centennial Commission, History Colorado, and more than 130 partners across the state. 

“This is an inspirational anniversary to celebrate how Colorado has been a trailblazer on expanding access to the ballot box - In 1893, 26 years before the 19th Amendment, Colorado was the first state to pass women’s suffrage through a referendum, and today we are proud to be a model for the country for voting,”  said Governor Jared Polis.“By lighting up our beautiful state Capitol in purple we are showing our gratitude to those who worked so hard to make real change and increase access to voting. Now more than ever we work to protect voting rights and to fight for equality.”

“As we commemorate the passage of the 19th amendment and reflect on the monumental contributions Colorado women have made in the fight for equality we must recommit ourselves to the ongoing fight for voting rights in this country,” said Lt. Governor Dianne Primavera. “Let’s celebrate our progress but let’s keep moving forward and refuse to rest on our laurels.”  

The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, prohibiting the denial of voting rights on the basis of sex, was adopted into federal law on August 26, 1920. Colorado was instrumental in the movement to achieve the 19th Amendment. Colorado voters banned gender discrimination in voting laws on November 7, 1893—more than 25 years before the ratification of the 19th Amendment, before voters in any other state had done the same. Coloradans went on to elect Clara Cressingham, Frances Klock, and Carrie Clyde Holly to their state legislature on November 6, 1894. They became America’s first women to serve as elected officials in their state legislature. Today, Colorado’s House of Representatives is one of only two legislative chambers in the country where female lawmakers hold a majority.

The lighting is part of a nationwide effort called the Forward Into Light Campaign, named in honor of the historic equal voting-rights slogan, “Forward through the Darkness, Forward into Light.” The campaign is organized by the nonpartisan Women's Suffrage Centennial Commission (WSCC), created through bipartisan congressional legislation that was co-sponsored by every female member of the U.S. Senate in 2017. The Capitol joins other prominent locations throughout Colorado also lighting up the night, including the Center for Colorado Women’s History, City of Boulder Office of Arts & Culture, Denver District Attorney’s Office, El Pueblo History Museum, Fort Garland Museum & Cultural Center, History Colorado Center, Molly Brown House Museum, and  Phamaly Theatre Company.

Buildings and landmarks that will also light up in purple and gold at nightfall on August 26 include the White House, One World Trade Center, Niagara Falls, Smithsonian museums, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and more than 50 National Park Service sites across the US.

Historical photographs and photos of buildings lit in purple and gold are available here.