I got this message via email, and I had to share it here. You may think you know the story, but do me a favor and read through the whole thing. I’m guessing, if you’re like me, there will be parts that surprise you. Parts you never knew. I’ve added a bit of my own message to the original.
This is the story of mothers and grandmothers who lived only 90 years ago.
Remember, it was not until 1920 that women were granted the right to go to the polls and vote.
These women were innocent and defenseless, but they were jailed nonetheless for picketing the White House, and for carrying signs asking for the vote.
And by the end of the night, they were bruised & beaten. Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden’s blessing went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of ‘obstructing sidewalk traffic.’
They beat Lucy Burns, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air.
They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cell mate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack. Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.
Thus unfolded the ‘Night of Terror’ on Nov. 15, 1917, when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson’s White House for the right to vote. For weeks, the women’s only water came from an open pail. Their food–all of it colorless slop–was infested with worms.
When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press.
So, refresh MY memory. Some women won’t vote this year because – WHY, exactly?? We have carpool duties? We have to get to work? Our vote doesn’t matter? It’s raining? It’s not a presidential election?
If you get the chance, watch the HBO movie ‘Iron Jawed Angels.’ It is a graphic depiction of the battle these women waged so that I could pull the curtain at the polling booth and have my say.. I am ashamed to say I needed the reminder.
Voting may sometimes feel like more of an obligation than a privilege. Sometimes it’s inconvenient.
What would these women think of the way we use, or don’t use, our right to vote? Most of us take that right for granted now.
Conferring over ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution at National Woman’s Party headquarters, Jackson Place , Washington , D.C.Left to right: Mrs. Lawrence Lewis, Mrs. Abby Scott Baker, Anita Pollitzer, Alice Paul, Florence Boeckel, Mabel Vernon (standing, right))
It is jarring to watch Woodrow Wilson (Dem.) and his cronies try to persuade a psychiatrist to declare Alice Paul insane so that she could be permanently institutionalized. And it is inspiring to watch the doctor refuse. Alice Paul was strong, he said, and brave. That didn’t make her crazy.
The doctor admonished the men: ‘Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity.’
Please, if you are so inclined, pass this on to all the women you know. We need to get out and vote and use this right that was fought so hard for by these very courageous women. Whether you vote democratic, republican or independent party – remember to vote.
I beg you to take a little time in the remaining days before the election to listen beyond the ridiculous noise and banter – clever ploys to distract from the real issues. Remember that just because you HEAR a lot about something, it doesn’t make it true or important. Don’t let the media or political “spin” control you. Look at the candidates up for election in your area. Look up their policies and what they stand for (a voting record if they have one). Seriously consider the issues that are important to you, and VOTE!
NOT voting accomplishes NOTHING. The only “statement” it makes is one about your personal apathy. If you choose the course of apathy, please keep your opinions and complaints to yourself in the coming years.
EVERY VOTE MAKES A DIFFERENCE. TAKE THE TIME. EXERCISE YOUR RIGHT. CHANGE THE WORLD.
*Most states offer options for early voting. (I voted today!) All states offer the option of absentee voting. Check this website for information in your area: http://www.canivote.org/
For more information on the National Woman’s Party Suffrage Campaign, go here