The year was 1919. US Representative James R. Mann proposed a House Resolution, also known as the Susan Anthony Amendment. That resolution was approved and just days later was passed by the Senate. Following ratification on Aug. 18, 1920, President Woodrow Wilson signed the 19th Amendment into law giving an estimated 25 million women the right to vote.
Fast forward 96 years and hear the descendants of those suffragettes roar today.
The League of Women Voters of Tyler/Smith County will celebrate the 96th anniversary of this monumental occasion with a celebration on Aug. 26, 5-8 p.m. at the Taylor Auditorium in the Tyler Public Library.
As a part of that celebration Dr. Dee Brock, Ph.D. will be presented the nationally recognized “Making Democracy Work” Award.
“In the six-decade history of the League in Tyler/Smith County, this is only the fifth time this prestigiuous award has been conferred,” League President Andie Rathbone said. “We are honoring Dr. Brock for her many community accomplishments.”
It was her father’s job with Sinclair Oil Company that brought her family from Oklahoma to Wright City those many years ago.
Brock’s career in education with Dallas County Community College led to her becoming an innovator in educational courses offered on television through the college and university system and later to the Public Broadcasting Service where she serve as the director of the PBS Adult Learning Service. This opened doors to the development of ALS and ALS Satellite Service in Washington DC.
And there was the 15-year run with the Dallas Cowboys organization. Brock was instrumental in the formation of the early Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders when Tex Schramm was at the helm.
While travel and profession have taken her near and far, it is a love of East Texas and caring for her mother that brought her back to this area. It was Troup for a while, with her mother, now Tyler is home for this service-minded lady.
Brock served as president of the Friends of the Library in Troup for 12 years. Libraries are just one of her passions.
Not sure when she joined the League, Brock says it was a friend who invited her to attend her first meeting.
“Before long I was really involved,” Brock said. “I was a sincere fan of democracy and our form of government and I was impressed with the fact that they (the League) were non-partisan. They don’t suppose a candidate, they don’t support a political party but they are very involved in issues and they’re very active in trying to impress those values they hold dear and the legislation they think important on the local, state and national levels.”
Soon after joining the League Brock worked on a historical display with the group celebrated its 50th anniversary. This was a place of service and friendship that was a great fit for her.
“Another thing I really liked about the League was they involve themselves in local issues,” Brock said. “If there is a local election you can almost count on them to host a candidate forum so that people can come and see candidates speak face to face.”
The League’s involvement in local government, especially voting, is where she sees a big focus of the organization
“We work very hard to get people to register to vote and then keep them informed about what is at stake and get them to go to the polls,” she said. “I believe we are much more successful in getting people to register to vote than we are at getting them to the polls.”
Brock says she is inspired by the League’s participation at every naturalization ceremony.
“We are there to encourage them as they become new citizens and offer them the opportunity to register to vote right on the spot,” Brock said. “They are so excited about their new home and being a citizen they almost always want to vote.”
That love for libraries has played a key role in Brock’s contributions to the work the League does in helping libraries stay in contact with one another and raise awareness for the smaller libraries especially.
“The League did a big study to see what the community thought about public libraries and what we could do to increase the support of the libraries,” she said. “A few years back the State of Texas disbanded the libraries’ system that allowed the libraries in communities to stay in touch with one another. The legislature dissolved the system and cut off almost all of the funds to libraries. This is something we take very seriously.”
These ongoing crusades keep Brock moving forward with the group. She takes her tasks to heart.
“It came as such a surprise to me that I was chosen as an honoree,” Brock said. “I still almost tear up when I think about my colleagues in the League voting to give this honor to me before I arrived at the meeting.”
Along life’s path Brock has always strived to make the best of things, look for the good in people and serve. It is that servant’s heart that will be honored on Friday by her fellow members of the League of Women Voters of Tyler/Smith County and friends.
Congratulations Dee Brock. Thank you for keeping that American way open to all.