Del. Pauline H. Menes (D-Prince George's) was arguing that Susan B. Anthony's birthday (Feb. 15) should be a holiday in the Prince George's schools when she went too far.
She was seeking to amend a bill designationg Columbus Day and Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthdays as Prince George's school holidays when she remarked that there were "questions about whether Columbus founded this country."
Up shot Menes Italian-American collegue, De. Francis J. Santangelo Sr., who said nothing but was restrained by another delegate from approaching Menes.
And so it went today as the all-Democratic Prince George's County delegation to the House of Delegates reconsidered the school holiday bill that it had approved two weeks ago and sent to the House for what seemed sure approval.
The amendment adding suqfragette Anthony's birthday to the list of holidays passed. So did one offered by Jewish residents of the county to make Yom Kippur a school holiday.
An amendment adding St. Patrick's Day to the list was defeated.
Then, before Del. Frank B. Pesci could make good on his threat to bring up St. Francis of Assissi, the entire bill was voted "unfavourable," a decision that will assure its defeat in the General Assembly.
"I knew it," lamented Del. Nathaniel Exum, who had added King's birthday to the list.
After original delegation approval of the bill aimed at making Columbus Day and King's birthday school holidays, some delegates started wondering why days of interest to their constituents had been left out.
"If this delegation is going to determine which historical figures our children will honor, then there must be a day for Susan B. Anthony," said Menes.
She was one of a handful of delegates who two weeks eariler had opposed adding new holidays. When she stood up today with her amendment. Del. Gerald F. Devlin, original sponsor of the bill, called it a "sham."
"Sham? I am more than serious about this bill." Menes said, "Need I remind you that if it wasn't for women you wouldn't be here?"
Someone shouted, "Don't bring up the motherhood thing." Menes said, no, she was referring to all the women who work in campaigns.
"My mind runs politically, not biologically," she added.
Little was said about Del. Kay G. Bienen's additional amendment to make Yom Kippur a school holiday.
When it came time to vote, roll calls were taken. "I'm not going to vote against women," proclaimed delegation chairman Frederick C. Rummage, who voted yes to Anthony and was quickly reprimanded by Pesci.
"I've got five women at home and I'm not voting against them," shouted Pesci, who has consistently voted against adding any new holidays. "If you want your children to appreciate Susan B. Anthony, Martin Luther King, ethnics and even saints, it beehoves you to teach them the principles they stand for in school, not let them run free on a day off from school."
The county school board was the beneficiary of the final decision to approve no bill at all. Board members had asked to be allowed to decide their own holidays.