Letter to the editor: Chapman overlooks notable Iowa women

Mary Beth Tinker, left, was a 13-year-old student at Warren G. Harding Junior High School in Des Moines on Dec. 16, 1965, when she and her brother, John Tinker, right, and three other students were suspended from school for wearing black arm bands in protest of the U.S. war in Vietnam. The U.S. Supreme Court decision in Tinker v. Des Moines was a landmark case on behalf of student free speech. Tinker reported that immediately after she and her brother were suspended, her family received many threats from the public. "A man who had a radio talk show threatened my father on the air," she said. "Red paint was thrown on our house. A woman called on the phone, asked for me by name and then said, 'I’m going to kill you!'" Today Tinker conducts speaking tours across the U.S. in order to teach children and youth about their rights. Photo courtesy American Civil Liberties Union

To the editor:

I just received an email from Perry’s state senator, Jake Chapman of Adel. In it he shares “Opening Day Remarks” in the Iowa State Legislature.

I was struck by the Iowa people to whom he chose to call our attention in his speech as ones who have inspired him — Gov. Lucas, Edwin and Nathaniel Guiberson, Martin Treptow, Alexander Clark, Daniel O’Connell and Sen. James Harlan.

All men.

I’m sure that this omission does not indicate anything about Chapman’s attitudes toward women. However, dear reader, it is interesting that he couldn’t find at least one women to mention in his list of inspiring Iowans.

Are there no Iowa women who have done great deeds or uttered inspiring words?

For Sen. Chapman’s convenience, I will list but a few here so that the next time he makes a speech about noteworthy Iowans, he can remember that there are women who should be included in the list.

Noteworthy Iowa Women

Julia C. Addington, the first woman elected to public office in Iowa

Carrie Chapman Catt, women’s suffrage activist

Susan Clark, desegregation activist

Willie Stevenson Glanton, first African-American woman elected to Iowa Legislature, first woman to be an assistant Polk County attorney, first woman and first African-American elected to the Iowa chapter of the Federal Bar Association

  • Janet Guthrie, race car driver, speaker and women’s sports advocate
  • Edna M. Griffin, civil rights activist
  • Mary Beth Tinker, First Amendment rights advocate
  • Kate and Trish Varnum, LGBTQ rights activists
  • Jane Elliott, educator
  • Jean Adeline Morgan Wanatee, Native woman and women’s rights advocate
  • Elizabeth Catlett, artist and civil rights advocate
  • Sister Irene Muñoz, migrant rights advocate
  • Peggy Whitson, first female commander of the International Space Station and record holder among American astronauts for spending the most time in space
  • Denise Long Rife, first woman drafted into the NBA

Chapman would do well to remember that he represents women in his district, and we want to hear about inspirational Iowa women as well as men.

Judy Kading



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