The League of Women Voters of Billings and the Billings Public Library will host a discussion entitled “Continuing the Fight for Women’s Rights” on Friday, February 14 from Noon – 1:30 p.m. in the Library’s Community Room. Facilitated by the League of Women Voters, the event will feature Kevin Kooistra, historian and Executive Director of the Western Heritage Center. Kooistra will present a history of the women’s suffrage and women’s rights movements. Topics include the story of suffragist Hazel Hunkins Hallinan of Billings who championed women and children’s rights in the 20th century, the history of the League of Women Voters, and various strategies used to create social change. This event commemorates the 100th birthday of the League of Women Voters and is part of the Library’s “2020: Year of Civic Literacy” series. Light refreshments will be served. Prior to the event, voter registration will take place in the Library lobby.
Hazel Hunkins Hallinan, a Billings High School graduate, class of 1908, became a pivotal member of the National Woman’s Party (NWP) and an active campaigner for women’s suffrage in America. Her staunch belief that all women merit the right to vote resulted in several arrests, attacks in the press, and assaults by angry mobs. Her own mother expressed embarrassment of her daughter’s rebellious activities. In 1977, nearing the age of ninety, she was still a champion for human rights. She met with President Jimmy Carter in support of the Equal Rights Amendment. Her inspirational struggle encapsulates the 20th-century fight for greater rights for women and children.
Kevin Kooistra, Executive Director of the Western Heritage Center, has worked in Montana for almost three decades as a community historian, archaeologist, cultural anthropologist, and scriptwriter. Kooistra serves on the boards of Visit Southeast Montana, Extreme History Project, and the Billings Cultural Partners.