There’s an excellent audio documentary prepared for “The California Report” about the upcoming state’s 100th anniversary suffrage celebration. You can access it with a click right here. There’s a great deal going on in California these days. The following news items are just a few examples, including a report about the League of Women Voters of California and a suffrage exhibit.
The 100th suffrage anniversary in California is a terrific backdrop to ongoing preparations for celebrating Women’s Equality Day on August 26th. Some folks are organizing the full-tilt high tea reception. Others are moving toward such a commitment gradually by meeting a friend at a local coffee or tea house. However… we’re all gonna have a good time.
The suffragists didn’t take the insults by U.S. President William Howard Taft lightly when he addressed their organization, the National American Woman Suffrage Organization– back in April of 1910. Taft had been known to oppose women voting, but perhaps he’d at least be polite in addressing their convention. Instead, he launched into a tirade about how extending the vote to women would be a disaster. The audience hissed, to which Taft said that self restraint was part of the game. Later, the organization officially apologized to Taft, but the point had been made. The women were up against very powerful individuals and interests.
It’s all in the telling, and the suffragists are believed to have written their own version of the tale. In March of 1913. U.S. President-elect Woodrow Wilson arrived at the train station in Washington, DC all geared up for his inauguration ceremony. He expected to be the center of attention, but he wasn’t. “Where are the people?” he is alleged to have asked. The response: “On the Avenue watching the suffragists parade.”
Doris Stevens in her book, “Jailed for Freedom,” tells the story as fact. Here’s her story about the parade in a two-minute clip. The reading is brought to us by Librivox.
Keeping the issue of voting alive and in the minds of politicians was an important tactic of the English suffragettes in 1909. It wasn’t one action that did the trick, but the constant reminders, in unexpected places, at unexpected times. Lucy Burns was an American, who with Alice Paul, was radicalized in the English front lines of suffrage. One evening she dressed in an elegant gown, socialized with the dignitaries at a fancy-dress ball, and then approached Winston Churchill. After waving a banner in his face, she asked: “How can you dine here while women are starving in prison?”
The police removed her from the building, and Churchill got the message.
The English had their martyr –Emily Davison who threw herself in front of the King’s horse to bring attention to the cause of Votes for Women. In the U.S., Inez Milholland was well known for riding a horse in suffrage parades. Milholland died on the campaign trail when barnstorming in the West. She was known as the couragous woman who died with the word of “Liberty” on her lips. Suffragists repeated her words often when confronting U.S. President Woodrow Wilson: “Mr. President, how long must women wait for liberty?”
The suff movement has been acknowledged in recent public speeches by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo. In the course of expressing support for marriage equality in New York, these two officials highlighted the woman’s suffrage movement in New York.
In a letter to New Yorkers on May 26, 2011, Governor Andrew Cuomo said the following: “New York has a proud, progressive history as a national leader in bringing greater equality and respect for all. From the fight for women’s suffrage to the struggle for civil rights, New Yorkers have not only been on the right side of history, we have made history. . .” A brief clip from Cuomo’s speech. Check out Cuomo’s full video message.
Noted Mayor Bloomberg: “And the question for every New York State lawmaker is: Do you want to be remembered as a leader on civil rights? Or an obstructionist? Remember, on matters of freedom and equality, history has not remembered obstructionists kindly. Not on abolition. Not on abortion. Not on women’s suffrage. Not on workers’ rights. Not on civil rights. And it will be no different on marriage rights.” A brief audio selection from the Mayor’s speech.
Check out “Bust Magazine” online for an affirmative last-minute appeal to raise the $5,000 slated to fund the production of a professional version of the story about the suffrage campaign wagon used by my grandmother Edna in the Votes for Women campaign. And please pass the word. I still believe in miracles.
Here’s the link!
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