Throughout this particularly difficult time we are all experiencing, we are reminded that hard times are not unique to our generation. What is different, however, is that these hard times were once accepted as the status quo for our ancestors, particularly women. Women of the early twentieth century were faced with an endless number of hurdles and given little to no room to jump. It seems as though this was the precise reason why many of them succeeded so defiantly – one of those fiery personalities being the Lowcountry’s own, Anita Pollitzer.
Anita was born in Charleston, South Carolina in 1894, where she was raised by her parents, Gustave and Clara Pollitzer. During that time, women were known merely as supplements to their husbands as leaders of the household. Women were expected to maintain the home, have children, and do little more. Anita refused to believe and partake in that notion.
After graduating from Memminger High School in 1913, Anita fearlessly fled to New York, where she enrolled in the School of Practical Arts at Columbia University’s Teacher’s College. It was there that she met her lifelong friend and fellow trailblazer, Georgia O’Keeffe.
In 1915, Anita began to feel led to help her generation of women make a difference for the future. Her beliefs in feminist values and social activism led her to become a founding member and chairman of the National Woman’s Party (NWP). This group became the first to picket for women’s rights, leading to Anita’s arrest in front of the White House in Washington, D.C. These movements led to the eventual passing of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1920, monumentally giving women the right to vote.
Throughout the Roaring Twenties, Anita continued to advocate for women; by giving them the right to secure property, obtain citizenship, and remove hourly limitations on women in the workplace. She also worked with fellow equal rights activist, Alice Paul, to pass the Equal Rights Amendment which would maintain equality of genders under all parts of the law. Despite their efforts, the first – and still the only – right that the Constitution specifically affirms equally for women and men is the right to vote.
Anita knew that this would be a long, hard-fought battle. But her diligence was never unfounded. Her drive to be more and do more led to a positive impact on this generation’s women, as she paved the way for us to continue the work she began.
As we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, we want to honor her by making some bold choices of our own. Through the spirit of Anita Pollitzer, we created our six-grain bourbon, Anita’s Choice.
Like Anita, we believe that good is just not good enough. We hope you’ll join us in celebrating Anita and the groundbreaking women of that generation who gave us the foundation of hope we have today. Learn more about Anita and her Lowcountry spirit later this fall at Burnt Church Distillery.
Lowcountry Digital History Initiative