Knoxville attorney Wanda Sobieski will discuss women’s suffrage during a presentation next week.
The presentation, which is free and open to the public, is titled “The Legacy and Challenges of Women’s Suffrage.” It starts at 10 a.m. Monday, Oct. 7, at Grace Covenant Church at 320 Robertsville Road in Oak Ridge.
Sobieski, who has been deeply involved in the effort to recognize and honor the early 20th century suffragists that won for women the right to vote, will show images from that time and discuss their struggles, relating them to the important contributions of Tennessee women, a press release said.
As coordinator of the Knoxville Women’s Suffrage Coalition and a commissioner of the Tennessee Commemorative Women’s Suffrage Commission, Sobieski led the effort to raise funding for the Tennessee Woman’s Suffrage Memorial and see it through to its unveiling in August 2006 in Knoxville’s Market Square. The statue depicts three Tennessee women, one from each division of the state, who were leaders in the suffragist movement. Included are Knoxvillian Lizzie Crozier French, founder of the Knoxville Equal Suffrage Association; Anne Dallas Dudley of Nashville; and Elizabeth Avery Meriwether of Memphis.
Here is more information from the press release:
In an August 2007 story in the Knoxville News Sentinel story about a re-enactment of French’s address to the Tennessee Bar Association on July 12, 1912— the first ever by a woman—Sobieski was quoted as saying she “remembers when history books covered the women’s suffrage movement with one line.” Sobieski and the coalition set out to see “that today’s women—and men—know a little more about their history,” the News- Sentinel story reported.
In information provided for this story, Sobieski said, “The actual images and arguments used in the 72-year battle for the women’s vote set the stage for this program’s focus on Tennessee’s unique and critical role in the passage of the 19th Amendment. The nonviolent campaign for women’s rightful place in this democracy was vociferously opposed by men and women alike. Dire predictions that women’s vote would end marriage, destroy the family, upset the social order, and violate the precepts of religion were abundant.
“The women in Tennessee who stood up to the opposition showed a determination and courage that should make us all proud. They opened the door for us to great opportunities. We should use their gift wisely and do our part to see that the next generation of women benefits from our advances.”
Sobieski received a bachelor’s degree from Wichita State University, a master’s degree in speech/communications from the University of Tennessee, and the Doctor of Jurisprudence from the UT College of Law in 1982.
She practiced law with Baker, Worthington, Crossley, Stansberry and Woolf from 1982 until January 1993, when she established her own firm. During this time, Sobieski worked on complex environmental and construction cases primarily and was honored to become the first woman partner in the hundred-year history of the firm, according to the firm’s website.
Sobieski is president of her law firm, Sobieski, Messer and Associates, practicing primarily in the areas of family law, civil rights, construction law, and appellate practice. She has received many awards and honors such as the Chancellor’s Citation for Outstanding Contributions to the College of Law, two National Women’s History Project Awards, and the ETLAW Spirit of Justice Award in 2008.
A member of the American, Tennessee, and Knoxville bar associations since 1982, Sobieski has served on the Advisory Panel in the American Bar Association, the Family Law Executive Committee for the Tennessee Bar Association, and in important positions with other professional organizations.
Committed to community service, she has served as adjunct professor in the UT College of Law, and chair of the Foster Care Review Board. She is a frequent lecturer on issues relating to the history of women’s legal status and is a member of numerous area groups such as the League of Women Voters, the American Association of University Women, the Appalachian Zoological Society and the East Tennessee Historical Society.
Monday’s presentation is co-sponsored by the Women’s Interfaith Dialogue of Oak Ridge and the League of Women Voters of Oak Ridge.