by MEGAN HUSSEY
As the nation this year celebrates the centennial anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, the Constitutional Amendment granting United States women the right to vote, Brooksville Main Street and The Hernando Sun are marking the milestone with the Women Leading the Way Women’s Suffrage Event/Exhibition March 20-21. And in addition to honoring the brave suffragists who put their lives on the line to secure a basic human right, this event will honor the visionary women of Hernando County.
“Aside from the history of the suffrage movement, which caused the nation to address the personhood of women,” said Natalie Kahler, Executive Director of Brooksville Main Street and a women’s suffrage historian, “we want to honor those who accomplished things in and for this community.”
In addition to a live reenactment of a suffragette march and rally, the event will feature a citywide exhibition honoring those women who made a difference; their names, photos and accomplishments posted on boards that will be featured in the halls of participating businesses.
The organizers of this project, which involves the participation of area non-profits that include the Business and Professional Women’s Association of Hernando County, the GFWC Historic Brooksville Woman’s Club, the Hernando Historical Museum Association, the Hernando County Arts Council, and the Historic Hernando Preservation Society, seek to include women–living and deceased–from all professions, backgrounds, races, and eras. They are accepting nominations for Hernando County visionary women to be featured in the exhibit.
“Our plan is to feature all different women in all different aspects of community life, who played a role in the history and growth of our community,” said Kahler.
And according to Kahler, when it comes to female trailblazers, Hernando has a lot to celebrate.
“In 1928, Lena Hawkins became the first female mayor in the state of Florida. She was the Mayor of Brooksville,” she said. “That same year, Hernando County’s Annie Joe Law became the first female county attorney in Florida. The county’s oldest operating business, Weeks Hardware, was started by two women.”
Kahler says that she also sees many modern examples of female luminaries in today’s Hernando, whom she also believes should be honored as part of the exhibition; also set to involve the participation and research efforts of Hernando high school students.
“As we live in the world today, we must remember and learn from what the world was like before,” she said. “Young people need to understand the great personal sacrifices the suffragettes made, putting their families and livelihood at risk.”
Nominations for the Women Leading the Way exhibit will be accepted now through February 15. Nominations would require:
• birth date and if applicable, death
• photo of nominee, if available
• number of years nominee lived in Hernando County
• reason for nominating them
• applicant’s relationship to the nominee
• applicant’s email and phone number
You can submit your nominations to the Hernando Sun at
Or mail your submission to:
Brooksville Main Street
P.O. Box 1323
Brooksville, FL 34605
“Hernando County has been home to many visionary women who have dared to dream and achieve the impossible. Leading national organizations, creating businesses, helping establish our Forestry Department, authors, actresses, and civic leaders who brought transformational change,” read a promotional blurb. “As we celebrate the 100th anniversary of women earning the right to vote, let’s celebrate the accomplishments of 177 years of Hernando County women.
Nominate your favorite glass-ceiling breaking woman. Then come to Brooksville March 20-21 to see displays of our amazing women.”
“Women are all different. We have different views and opinions, and political stances,” said Kahler. “One thing we can all agree on is that women should be involved in the community. And with Women Leading the Way, this is what we celebrate.”
Images courtesy of Brooksville Main Street.