Women's Equality Day recognizes Vivian Conley givers in Muncie, IN
By Rick Yencer
MUNCIE, IN - Voter rights and reproductive health care were the talking points Monday during a Women's Equality Day celebration at Muncie City Hall.
And the giving of the late Vivian Conley whose family continues to recognize her legacy in awarding women of achievement was the main event of that gathering.
Eight women involved in community, government, education and culture found themselves among the hundreds recognized during the past 20 years of Conley award winners.
Whether it was young Megan Quirk who helped get the Ross Community Center back on its feet or the senior of the Conley family, Geraldine Burns, who broke color barriers in government and politics, every women who was recognized did their part to better the community and the people who live there.
Other award winners included Julie Hankins, executive director of Cancer Services of East Central Indiana; Mary House, president and board member of the YWCA; Lillian Dunn, youth activist; Evelyn Wilson, community activist; Melissa Daniels, arts and culture activist, and Diane Curtis, another activist who renewed the Ross Community Center.
Rachel Cantrell also received the Ball State scholarship award given by the Conley family.
Each woman had a story to tell and many like House were humbled by the honor or Dunn, who thanked God for helping her help others.
Burns had a heartwarming story about the relationship with her cousin, Conley, who went into education and helped youth while Burns served government and the people.
But it was Alice Bennett, who is president of the Indiana Civil Liberties Union, who warmed of the ongoing conflict over voter rights and reproductive health care that women must continue to be informed and participate in protecting both legal and moral rights.
"Today, we can show we make a difference and we will," said Bennett.
Rep. Sue Errington, D-Muncie, agreed women had to step up and stop action to turn back constitutional rights. She pointed how how Gov. Mike Pence just last weekend tried to usurp the power of Glenda Ritz, Indiana superintendent of public instruction.
And as Bennett said, some states already are putting more restrictive voter right laws in place after the U.S. Supreme Court threw out the 1965 Voter Rights Act, leaving states to make their own voter laws.
Besides city government, other groups participating in Monday's gathering were National Organization of Women, American Association of University Women, League of Women Voters, Indiana Women of Achievement Awards, the Friends of Conley and the Coalition of 100 Women.