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Battle for the right to vote

Anyone who has ever watched the Disney movie "Mary Poppins" undoubtedly remembers the character of Mrs. Banks, who was devoted to the cause of obtaining "Votes for Women."

But what many don't realize is that Mrs. Banks and her "Sister Suffragettes," while fictional, were a reference to a very real part of British and American history.

A more serious examination of the women's suffrage (women's right to vote) movement is the subject of "Iron-Jawed Angels," a 2004 movie by HBO Films that will be screened in Detroit Lakes on Tuesday, Sept. 30 at The Avenue, starting at 7 p.m. (There will be a social hour from 6 p.m. until the start of the movie.)

Starring Oscar-winning actresses Hilary Swank and Anjelica Huston, the movie details the efforts of Americans Alice Paul and Lucy Burns to advance the cause of women's rights in the U.S. by giving them the right to vote.

Co-sponsored by the local study group, Master Minds of Detroit Lakes, and the League of Women Voters, this screening will be offered free of charge as an educational service to the community.

"This is a movie I saw a couple of years ago, and I was so blown away by it," said Kelly Pratt, a member of Master Minds, who helped organize the screening along with Terry Kalil of the League of Women Voters.

"I knew nothing about this struggle, how intense it was," Pratt said. So impressed was she by the movie that she ordered several DVD copies of it and began giving them out as gifts to friends.

The film came up during a discussion at a meeting of the Master Minds, a dozen local residents who gather once a week at The Avenue for a book discussion.

As it happened, the same movie had also come up during a League of Women Voters meeting. Pratt mentioned her group's discussion of hosting a screening of the movie in an e-mail to Kalil, and she said the League was willing to help sponsor it.

As it happens, The Avenue is housed in an old movie theater, which made it the perfect setting for the screening.

Though League events are non-partisan, part of their mission is to encourage local residents to vote -- so as part of Tuesday's screening, they will also be offering local residents an opportunity to register to vote, Kalil said.

"This really is an historic election that will be taking place in November," Pratt added. "It's very important that everybody get out and vote."

In addition, there will also be a discussion held following the movie, Kalil noted. The discussion is open to everyone, regardless of their political affiliation or gender.

"This is not a partisan event, it's educational," she added.

To RSVP (requested, not required), please send e-mails to or call 218-844-7957.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454