5 Suffragists Whose Post-Suffrage Activism Inspires Us

By Whitney Stohr

The Turning Point Suffragist Memorial Association is raising funds to erect a memorial honoring the suffragists who fought for and won women’s right to vote. For seventy-two years, since the first Woman’s Rights Convention was held in Seneca Falls, New York in 1848, many women (and some men) actively participated in the movement and all deserve to be honored and remembered for their role in American history. These women were pioneers, rabble-rousers, and dedicated social activists, who yearned for equality and were unrelenting in their fight for political rights. So dedicated were they to social activism that, even after the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920, many remained active in the public sphere, promoting civil rights and educating women about their new political power. This piece highlights the inspiring, post-suffrage activities of five suffragists known both for their involvement in the suffrage movement and for their later accomplishments.

 1.  Alice Paul, heroine of the Silent Sentinels

Alice Paul 1930s

[1] Alice Paul, c. 1930s

Alice Paul was one of the key players of the late suffrage movement, the daring leader of the National Woman’s Party (NWP), and General of the Silent Sentinels, whose pickets outside the White House in the late 1910s ended in their imprisonment and brutalization at the Occoquan Workhouse. Following ratification of the 19th Amendment, Alice continued her advocacy for women’s equality when, in 1923, she introduced the first Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), stating “Men and women shall have equal rights throughout the United States and every place subject to its jurisdiction.” She was later involved in the creation of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women and successfully led the coalition responsible for the inclusion of the sexual discrimination clause in Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Read more about Alice Paul at http://www.alicepaul.org/.

2.  Carrie Chapman Catt, pillar of the suffrage movement

Carrie-Chapman-Catt

[2] Carrie Chapman Catt

Rising through the ranks of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), Carrie Catt became President of the organization in 1900, and after briefly stepping away from NAWSA, re-assumed leadership in 1915. Her efforts, combined with those of the NWP, were instrumental in the eventual ratification of the 19th Amendment. Post-ratification, Carrie worked to educate the recently-enfranchised, female demographic, and founded the League of Women Voters in 1920, which now includes over 800 state and local Leagues in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Hong Kong.

Read more about Carrie Chapman Catt and the League of Women Voters at http://lwv.org/ and http://www.catt.org/ (Carrie Chapman Catt Girlhood Home website).

3.  Dorothy Day, suffragist and social worker

Dorothy_Day_1934-237x300

[3] Dorothy Day

Born in Brooklyn in 1897, Dorothy Day developed a passion for social justice early in life. As a journalist involved in the suffrage movement, Dorothy was arrested in 1917 while picketing outside the White House with the NWP and joined the Silent Sentinels in a hunger strike when imprisoned at the Occoquan Workhouse. Co-founder of the influential newspaper, The Catholic Worker, and leader of the Catholic Worker Movement, Dorothy is best known for her work in the post-suffrage years.

Learn more about Dorothy Day and her later activism at http://www.catholicworker.org/.

4.  Harriot Stanton Blatch, heir to activism

HSB NWHM

[4] Harriot Stanton Blatch

The daughter of pioneering suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton and abolitionist Henry Stanton, Harriot Eaton Stanton Blatch was raised by two activist parents, and added substantially to her family’s legacy through her own involvement in the suffrage movement and home front war efforts during WWI. After leading the wartime Food Administration Speakers’ Bureau and the Woman’s Land Army, Harriot published “A Woman’s Point of View” in 1920, making the case for women’s continued involvement in peace efforts. Following ratification of the 19th Amendment, Harriot twice ran for political office: in 1921, for Comptroller of the City of New York, and later, in 1926, for the Senate.

Learn more about the life and accomplishments of Harriot Stanton Blatch at http://www.biography.com/.

5.  Ida B. Wells, crusader for justice

Wells

[5] Ida B. Wells

Already an experienced activist when she became involved in the suffrage movement, as a young, African American woman in the South, Ida B. Wells was arrested on a segregated train when she refused to move to the car reserved for black passengers. In her early career as a journalist, Ida wrote on issues of race and politics in the South and initiated an anti-lynching campaign, for which she received numerous death threats, causing her to move north to New York City. As a suffragist, Ida founded the Alpha Suffrage Club of Chicago and marched in the 1913 Women’s Suffrage Parade in Washington, DC. She continued to fight for equal rights for the remainder of her life, and in 1930, launched a campaign for a seat in the Illinois State Legislature, becoming one of the first black women in the U.S. to run for public office.

Read more about the activist life of Ida B. Wells at http://www.biography.com/, and check out this article by Lynn Yaeger on Vogue.com to learn more about influential African American suffragists (“The African-American Suffragists History Forgot,” published October 21, 2015).

References:

[1] Alice Paul Institute, http://www.alicepaul.org.

[2] Turning Point Suffragist Memorial, http://suffragistmemorial.org/suffragist-month/.

[3] Turning Point Suffragist Memorial, http://suffragistmemorial.org/suffragist-month-2013/.

[4] National Women’s History Museum, http://www.nwhm.org/education-resources/biography/biographies/harriot-eaton-stanton-blatch/.

[5] Biography.com, http://www.biography.com/people/ida-b-wells-9527635#synopsis.

W.StohrWhitney Stohr is Social Media Chair for the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial Association and a member of the organization’s Media and Marketing Committee. Find her online at http://www.linkedin.com/in/whitneystohr/ and twitter @WStHendricks

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October 22, 2015 · 4:29 PM

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