June 9, 2017 Letter to Supporters and Friends
Dear Justice Bell Foundation Supporters and Friends,
We recently posted that the Justice Bell Foundation (JBF) resigned from the Justice Bell Planning Committee, a group consisting of the Washington Memorial Chapel (custodian of the Bell), the Washington Memorial Heritage, the Pennsylvania Daughters of the American Revolution, and the Chester County Historical Society. We would like to explain why.
The JBF first met with the referenced organizations in September 2016. Our goal was to plan for the temporary transfer of the Justice Bell to Philadelphia's Independence Square in 2020, and to organize a celebration there to mark the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave women in America the right to vote.
During a second meeting of this group on May 30, JBF Executive Director Amanda Owen was informed by the seven representatives on the committee that they did not want their organizations to be associated with what Gardiner Person, Executive Director of the Washington Memorial Heritage, called the Justice Bell Foundation's "activist agenda," which he described specifically as our “advocacy for equal pay, the Equal Rights Amendment, and women’s equality.”
The group stated that they wanted to create a type of "fire wall" that would make it clear that they did not agree with our foundation's “agenda.”
During a subsequent meeting of our Board of Directors, we unanimously voted to withdraw our membership in the planning committee, believing that our continued participation would not be in the interest of our foundation.
We wholeheartedly embrace our goal not only to honor the accomplishments of the suffragists, but also to advocate for full equality in the 21st century. We are eager to complete our Justice Bell documentary project and to sponsor other events including showing the “Equal Means Equal” documentary, followed by breakout discussions and action plans.
We welcome the organizations and women's groups who have reached out to us to collaborate in events marking the 2020 centennial of the 19th Amendment, and will continue to be front and center in leading the effort to honor the suffragists and the Justice Bell. We will keep you posted as these events are scheduled.
The Justice Bell Foundation Board of Directors