top of page

Blog

Today is . . .


Happy Women's Equality Day, the day designated by Congress in 1973 to commemorate the addition of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that prohibited federal and state governments from denying or abridging the rights of citizens to vote on account of sex.

Linda and I are just back from a four-day marvelous women's history landmark road trip. We started in Lorton, Virginia, at the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial, the only national suffrage memorial in the United States. Located in Occoquan Regional Park that includes the historic prison grounds where many suffragists known as "Silent Sentinels," were jailed in the Occoquan Workhouse facility for peacefully picketing the White House in 1917.

The top image is me (on a windy day) standing at the entrance next to the life-sized statue representing Alice Paul, co-founder of the National Woman's Party and author of the Equal Rights Amendment. A Silent Sentinel, Paul was imprisoned and forced fed, a form of torture. (Click on images to enlarge them.)

The image below on the left are visitors at the statue representing Mary Church Terrell, first president of the National Association of Colored Women and a Silent Sentinel, along with her daughter. In the background, is the Memorial Garden and Gazebo, a place for reflection and respite. I was very appreciative of the attention paid to landscaping from the beds of sunflowers to the variety of plantings.

Terrell's statue faces the Suffragist Commemorative Wall that lists, under their home state, all 91 known Silent Sentinels jailed in 1917. The girl in the next image is touching the plaque that reads "Mabel Vernon/ b. 10 Sep 1883 d. 2 Sep 1975/Wilmington, Delaware" I found the Wall visually engaging and moving, perhaps because I had written (and cared about) so many of the women I was thrilled to see them named in a public place.



The next image is a full front view (L to R): part of the Memorial Gazebo, Turning Point sign, Alice Paul statue, replica of White House gates and driveway, donor wall, and an actual section of the White House hand forged iron fence where the Silent Sentinels demonstrated. The image, below left, shows the replica of the White House driveway, a ballot box, the semi-circle of Information Stations, and the Rotunda with six pillars of the suffrage movement: Democracy, Advocacy, Freedom, Equality, Justice, Liberty. A statue (image right) representing Carrie Chapman Catt, President of the National American Woman Suffrage Association and founder of the League of Women Voters is inside the Rotunda. Catt's pose is from an iconic victory photograph of her greeting a huge crowd in New York City.


Nineteen large, two-sided granite Information Stations surround the Rotunda. Number 14 (left image below) recounts the "Night of Terror," the government-sanctioned violence perpetrated on jailed suffragists the night of November 14, 1917, the "turning point" incident that escalated and intensified public attention.

I was happy to see visitors at the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial, including the family of women and a stretching man in the next image on the right. (As I have noted in other blogs, I rarely encounter other visitors at women's landmarks.)




As with many historic events, there is misinformation about the 19th Amendment that simply and transformatively reads: "The rights of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation." A pervasive misconception is that the 19th Amendment excluded Black women from voting. As I wrote in my book, "The Vote: Women's Fierce Fight," it was violence and racist laws in some states that prohibited many Black women from voting. Despite the dangers and obstacles, many Black women did register and vote, even before passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1965. "No discouragement, or 'test,' no petty insult stopped them," wrote William Pickens, an official of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Efforts to restrict the rights of citizens to vote continue to this day, as does the fight to protect the right to vote. Onward!

36 views2 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page