Alice Paul, Lucy Burns, and the National Women’s Party

 

 

 

 
Contact your U.S. Senators to vote in favor of this Bill when it gets to the Senate Floor, and ask them to co-sponsor

S. 826: Alice Paul Congressional Gold Medal Act.

If it weren’t for Alice Paul and her supporters, and the women and men before her working for women’s rights, women today wouldn’t enjoy the freedoms they have today.

 

 
From NOW, 5/16/08:
 

NOW logo

 

 

For Immediate Release
Contact: Mai Shiozaki, 202-628-8669, ext. 116; cell 202-641-1906

 

House Passes Bill to Honor Woman Suffragist Leader Alice Paul with the Congressional Gold Medal
Statement of NOW President Kim Gandy May 15, 2008
Today the House of Representatives recognized Alice Paul for her role in winning women’s suffrage by passing legislation to award her the Congressional Gold Medal. Paul was one of the leading figures responsible for the passage of the 19th Amendment that gave women the right to vote and penned the early version of the Equal Rights Amendment that would enshrine women in the Constitution. This long overdue honor recognizes Alice Paul as one of the great women in history for her work to promote women’s rights, freedom and equality.
The National Organization for Women salutes the work of Representative Joe Baca (D-Calif.) as he gathered 412 bipartisan sponsors for H.R. 406. The House passage of the bill is the first step toward honoring Alice Paul with a Congressional Gold Medal. We will be working with the bill’s counterpart in the Senate, sponsored by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), with the goal of having the Gold Medal award posthumously to feminist heroine Alice Paul.
It was because of women like Alice Paul, who dedicated her life to the women’s movement, that organizations like NOW have been able to be legitimate and pertinent forces in politics and in our culture today. It was only 89 years ago that women had no voting rights, little power, and married women had no separate legal status. With the help of Paul and her tenacity to do what was right, women now can not only vote, but own homes, run businesses, play sports, be a U.S. senator, or become the first women president.
To honor Paul is to honor her life and work. She was the author of the Equal Rights Amendment, founder of the National Women’s Party, and a lifelong activist for women’s equality. Paul fought tirelessly to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment until her death in 1977, and though the ERA is still not in the Constitution, Paul’s legacy continues today.

From www.govtrack.us, 5/16/08:

The following summary is provided by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan government entity that serves Congress and is run by the Library of Congress. The summary is taken from the official website THOMAS.

 

1/11/2007–Introduced.

 
Alice Paul Congressional Gold Medal Act – Requires the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate to make arrangements for the posthumous presentation of a congressional gold medal in commemoration of Alice Paul, to recognize her role in the women’s suffrage movement and in advancing equal rights for women.
Authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to strike and sell duplicates in bronze of such medal. Requires proceeds from the sale of such medals to be deposited into the U.S. Mint Public Enterprise Fund.
 
Alice Paul a fitting figure to remember during Women’s History Month
 
By MARY CHAPIN
Special to the Observer-Dispatch
Posted Mar 11, 2009 @ 05:36 PM
 

 

Women’s History Month, celebrated in March, could easily recognize a number of women, but Alice Paul stands out.

Paul was a young Quaker social worker from New Jersey when she left New York, upset at the cries of women and children being beaten in the tenements. She went to England to pursue her education and found, instead, the English Women’s Suffrage Movement, the Pankhurst women, and a true friend, Irish Catholic Lucy Burns.

Returning to the United States, Paul founded the National Women’s Party. She organized women to picket the White House, asking the president for a woman’s right to vote. The women were arrested by D.C. police for “obstructing traffic,” and when they refused to pay their fine, they were taken to Occoquan prison in Virginia.

On Nov. 15, 1917, the warden ordered guards to teach the suffragists a lesson. Prison guards wielding clubs went on a rampage against the 33 women, beating, slamming and kicking them. They chained Lucy Burns’ hands to the cell bars above her head, leaving her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air. She ended up serving 15 months in jail.

Alice Paul, the general of the suffrage movement, was finally arrested and jailed for six months. In protest, she and others went on a hunger strike and were force-fed. To break her spirit, Alice Paul was secretly sent to a psychopathic ward in a D.C. hospital and it took two weeks for her lawyer and family to find where she had been taken. When released, she continued to send women across the country to work for the vote for women.

Three area women helped solicit money for the suffragists: Lucy Carlile Watson and Glendolyn Bens of Utica and Adelaide Williams White of Rome. Although they did not picket, they were part of a 50-member area women’s group supporting Paul and her efforts to secure the vote.

Congress finally passed the 19th Amendment (The Susan B. Anthony Amendment), giving women the right to vote on June 4, 1919. It was ratified Aug. 18, 1920.

Alice Paul went on to earn three law degrees, and in 1923, she proposed the Equal Rights Amendment in Seneca Falls. It was passed in 1972, failed ratification in 1982, needing three more states, and has been re-introduced every year by Sen. Ted Kennedy and Rep. Carolyn Maloney.

One of the two programs being presented at the Oneida County Historical Society for Women’s History Month will show the film, “Iron Jawed Angels,” the story of Alice Paul and Lucy Burns. It commemorates the 72-year struggle of women to win the vote. A second film, “A Sense of Wonder,” is the story of Rachel Carson, her work and other clips by environmentalists. Both programs are sponsored by the Business & Professional Women, The Mohawk Valley Women’s History Project (a chapter of the National Women’s History Project which is the lead organization promoting the film), the League of Women Voters of the Utica/Rome Metro Area and the Mohawk Valley branch of the American Association of University Women.

We have come a long way, but we have a long way to go. Some rights have been won, but never realized. We are still fighting for others: equal pay, equal rights, freedom from the hate crime of violence against women and yes, discrimination because we are women.

Women fight for good government, fair hiring practices, rights for women of all ethnic backgrounds. We come in all shapes, sizes and ages. We continue the fight for ourselves and our children, grandchildren and, yes, great-grandchildren.

Mary Chapin lives in New Hartford. She wrote and produced the first play written about Alice Paul and the quest for women’s rights. It was performed July 16, 1998, in Seneca Falls by members of the League of Women Voters and later that year at the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute and Utica College. Two years ago, it was presented by the New Hartford Players at Utica Monday Nite.


 
 
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