Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Alice Paul

Alice Paul is a hero. She was a tenacious woman who fought for the rights she so fervently believed that she and those of her gender deserved. In every history class that I have ever taken the woman’s suffragist movement and the important role played by Alice Paul and the National Women’s Party is glossed over.

We like to think in this day and age that we have managed to overcome so many of our past struggles, but such growth is not something that comes easily, and certainly nothing that occurs when we fail to highlight its relevance in history.

In the early twentieth century the battle for women’s right to vote was still raging. The problem stemmed largely from a reluctance to demand for, rather than ask for, the right to vote. Alice Paul and Lucy Burns were willing to make demands.

They banded together with other like-minded women and began picketing outside the White House gates in 1917. Later that year, their picketing led to arrests and prison sentences, but they refused to give up their battle. They were strong and determined.
During their time spent behind bars they were subjected to horrendous living conditions, and force feedings when they attempted to refuse to eat in protest of their captivity. Those who continued to picket were attacked by mobs of citizens who themselves went uncharged.

And yet they persisted. They persevered. They won.

Alice Paul is my hero. Who is yours?

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