4 Women Drivers Take Part in Historic Convoy to Recognize the Anniversary of First Women’s Vote
By AL MUSKEWITZ
Four pioneering women in the American trucking industry are paying tribute and bringing awareness to another pioneering woman in the nation’s history by participating in a cross-country drive to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the first woman to vote in America.
April Coolidge, a driver with Walmart Logistics, jumps in the truck later today in Denver to start the anchor leg of a 1,750-mile journey that began in Baltimore Aug. 31 and will end in Laramie, Wyo. Sept. 6, the anniversary of Louisa Swain casting America’s first vote in a general election by a woman in 1870.
“I’m just honored to be included in this and recognizing Louisa Swain for the historic moment she had casting the first vote representing women,” Coolidge said as she awaited her flight in the Charlotte, N.C., airport to meet the truck. “It is very meaningful to me. Louisa Swain was the first woman who ever cast a vote representing women in the election process.
“I look at that and compare it to what myself the other women do on the (America’s) Road Team, representing women in the trucking industry. We’re kind of a pioneer in what we do because there are not a lot of women in the trucking industry so we’re kind of paving a path for women and being an example for women to get involved in the trucking industry, to show them they have opportunities and they can accomplish whatever they set their minds out to do.”
Coolidge has been joined on the journey by three other accomplished women drivers – Rhonda Hartman of Old Dominion Freight Lines, Tina Peterson of FedEx Ground and Dee Sova of Prime Inc. They represent nearly 85 years of driving experience and more than 8.5 million safe miles. All four are currently or have been members of the ATA’s America’s Road Team.
The specially wrapped ATA truck made stops in Washington, D.C.; Columbus, Ohio; Dayton, Ohio; Indianapolis and St. Louis; and is scheduled for stops in Denver; Cheyenne, Wyo.; and Laramie, culminating with a reenactment of Swain’s historic vote.
Coolidge, a registered voter, admitted she didn’t know much of Swain’s story as the first woman in the world to cast a ballot under democratically enacted laws granting women equal political rights with men before her invitation to take part in the project, but has learned a lot since. Swain was on her way to the market to buy some yeast that historic morning when she passed the polling place and election officials encouraged her to come inside and cast her vote.
Legend has it she beat the next woman in town to vote by some 30 minutes.
“To be a part of this recognizing her for making history is a pretty big deal to me,” Coolidge said. “It’s pretty special.”
And the leg of the commemorative convoy she’s driving is pretty special, too.
“Being from Montana, that is really the leg I enjoy the most,” she said, “because it makes me feel like I’m going back home.”
Al Muskewitz is the Editor of Wright Media. He can be reached at email@example.com