Starting at sunset each night, Friday, Aug. 21 through Sunday, Aug. 23, and Wednesday, Aug. 26, the Old Point Loma Lighthouse at Cabrillo National Monument will be illuminated with purple and gold lights to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the 19th Amendment. The park will be open until 8:30 p.m. each night for visitors to enjoy the lights, learn about women’s history, and take photos.
Aug. 26 will mark exactly 100 years since the 19th Amendment became law, ensuring that gender could not exclude women from voting. This milestone in the nation’s history was won through struggle and protest in the streets, in courtrooms, and in Congress. And while citizens celebrate this important moment in history, the country also recognizes that law and practice continued to exclude women of color for decades more. The right to vote is fundamental to democracy, which must be preserved and protected even today
The Old Point Loma Lighthouse was one of the first eight lighthouses built on the West Coast in the 1850s. At lighthouses across the United States, women were hired as lighthouse keepers, often when their husbands became ill or died. These women were paid the same amount as their male counterparts for equal work, becoming one of the first examples of pay equality in the federal government.
The Old Point Loma Lighthouse at Cabrillo National Monument never had a female lighthouse keeper, but women did serve as assistant keepers, including Maria Israel, who served alongside her husband, Robert Israel, from 1873 to 1876.
“The park’s history covers many centuries, from the Cabrillo expedition in 1542 to WWII coastal defense history. From the 1800s, the Old Point Loma Lighthouse represents a story of equal pay for women in the United States, so we are using it as backdrop to illuminate other stories of women’s history, including the ratification of the 19th Amendment during the Forward Into Light event” said Cabrillo National Monument Superintendent Andrea Compton.
Led by the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission, Forward Into Light is a nationwide initiative to light up structures in American communities with the suffrage colors of purple and gold the night of Aug. 26. Purple signifies unswerving steadfastness to the cause, while gold signifies the flame of the torch leading the way. Cabrillo National Monument joins many other organizations and agencies in this collaboration, including support from the Cabrillo National Monument Foundation and the Women’s Museum of California.
“Forward into Light” was a popular rallying cry for the women’s suffrage movement. Suffragists carried banners at marches and demonstrations emblazoned with a compelling verse: “Forward, out of error, / Leave behind the night, / Forward through the darkness, / Forward into light!” The words evoked the movement’s goal of a brighter future through women’s votes, and the hope of leaving behind the “error” and “darkness” of oppression.
Cabrillo National Monument will be open until 8:30 p.m. each night for the light display. A slideshow of historic photos will be projected on one side of the lighthouse. Sunset will occur slightly before 7:30 on these dates, and visitors are welcome to stay at the park to enjoy sunset and see the lighthouse until 8:30 p.m.
The public should use social distancing practices and to wear a face-covering at this event when social distancing cannot be maintained.
Cabrillo National Monument is currently in a phased re-opening. Outdoor areas, trails, and restrooms are open. Indoor areas, including exhibits, the Visitor Center, and the interior of the Old Point Loma Lighthouse, are temporarily closed to comply with guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local public health authorities.