Suff buffs and citizens in general have been hearing a great deal these days about the centennial parade planned for Sunday, March 3, 2013 in Washington D.C. The parade celebrates the spectacular suffrage procession of March 3, 1913, a key date in women’s rights history. It was a significant show of strength for suffragists, and a galvanizing point for the Votes for Women movement.
It’s also the centennial of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, organizer of the 2013 parade as part of their festivities. When a troop of fearless young black women from the new Howard University sorority joined the all-white parade in 1913, they boldly challenged the segregationist policies that might have excluded them. Now, one hundred years later, the sorority leads the parade!
The parade was specifically designed for its aesthetic value. It’s remembered as both a political marvel and a brilliant spectacle, including a pageant and an astonishing procession of divisions of hundreds of women in coordinated color costumes arranged by profession, organization, and state. Floats highlighted women in American history and many marchers carried vibrant banners and flags. Following the 1913 parade, the special care devoted to the planning by suffragist Alice Paul became recognized and appreciated.
After the parade of over 5,000 women and men had marched more than a mile from the Capitol, intoxicated opponents demonstrated. Crowds surged forward and blocked the marchers. Women on foot and on the floats were insulted and accosted. Troops on horseback drove the crowds back so the shaken suffragists could complete their parade.
It’s a pivotal event to remember. March is National Women’s History Month. Commemorate the occasion by joining or supporting the parade on March 3, 2013 in DC. There’s a full schedule of events and exhibits. In addition to Delta Sigma Theta, national coalition members planning events include the National Women’s History Museum, Sewall-Belmont House & Museum, American Association of University Women, and National Women’s History Project.