Freeman family honors matriarch; 19th Amendment events continue March 8

February 7, 2020

For many years, Michelle Freeman, CEO and president of the Carl M. Freeman Companies, has wanted to find a meaningful way to honor her late mother-in-law, Virginia.

As the wife of Carl M. Freeman and mother of Joshua M. Freeman, Virginia Freeman wasn’t always in the spotlight. Both men were at the helm of the companies which Carl founded in 1947, developing and managing commercial and residential properties in Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.

But Virginia Freeman was one of the driving forces behind the establishment of the Carl M. Freeman Foundation, a private family foundation that provides grants to nonprofits in the Mid-Atlantic region.

So, when the National Archives approached the foundation for funding toward its Rightfully Hers: American Women and the Vote exhibit, Michelle Freeman realized it would be a great fit to honor her mother-in-law, who quietly supported women’s rights throughout her life.

The Rightfully Hers exhibit commemorates the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment ratification and highlights the relentless struggle of diverse activists throughout U.S. history to secure voting rights for all American women.

“I’m thrilled that the Freeman family and the Carl M. Freeman Foundation found a significant way to honor Virginia Freeman,” Michelle Freeman said. “As a person who knew the value of hard work and grit to further her education and career, Virginia found her voice to improve the quality of life for many through the arts and her philanthropic activities – many specifically for women. I believe Virginia would be proud that we are bringing awareness to the centennial of the 19th Amendment ratification, and she would insist that we keep the conversation ongoing for progress and equity for all, especially women.”

Freeman also saw an opportunity to commemorate this historical milestone through the Joshua M. Freeman Foundation, the fundraising arts nonprofit she founded after the death of her husband Josh in 2006.

The Joshua M. Freeman Foundation team will present a myriad of events and programs to celebrate the centennial of the 19th Amendment ratification, including a celebration march on International Women’s Day at 3 p.m., Sunday, March 8, at The Circle in Georgetown.

The event will commemorate the suffragettes who marched for women to have the right to vote. It is open to the general public and will feature a proclamation from the Town of Georgetown, a sash-making station, music and hot beverages and sweet treats – including Girl Scout cookies for sale. The League of Women Voters will be on-site for voter registration. 

The foundation has also commissioned JoAnn Balingit, a past Delaware Poet Laureate, to create a poem for this special event, which will be recited by three local high school students. Events will span the state of Delaware and include three speaking engagements and two screenings of the film “Iron Jawed Angels,” which will also feature pre- and post-screening discussions.

The first screening of “Iron Jawed Angels” is set for 6 p.m., Wednesday, March 18, in the Faucett Lecture Hall at Delaware Tech in Georgetown. Hilary Swank portrays suffragist leader Alice Paul, a feminist who risked her life to fight for women's citizenship and the right to vote. Additional events will include a women’s rights speaking engagement sponsored by Delaware Historical Society at 6 p.m., Wednesday, March 25, at the Lewes Public Library.

The League of Women Voters will be available at all events with voter registration information.

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