Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Alice Paul

Alice Paul studied social work in London and became part of the radical suffrage movement there which used hunger strikes and attacks on politicians as tactics.  She understood the power of symbols in word, images, and actions. Paul organized a 5,000 women march in Washington the day before Woodrow Wilson's Inauguration and formed the "Silent Sentinels" in 1917. Here is a description from wikipedia:

In January 1917, Paul and over 1,000 “Silent Sentinels” began eighteen months of picketing the White House, standing at the gates with such signs as, “Mr. President, how long must women wait for liberty?” They endured verbal and physical attacks from spectators, which increased after the US entered World War I. Instead of protecting the women’s right to free speech and peaceful assembly, the police arrested them on the flimsy charge of obstructing traffic. Paul was sentenced to jail for seven months, where she organized a hunger strike in protest. Doctors threatened to send Paul to an insane asylum and force-fed her, while newspaper accounts of her treatment garnered public sympathy and support for suffrage. By 1918, Wilson announced his support for suffrage. It took two more years for the Senate, House, and the required 36 states to approve the amendment.


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