Hard to believe we are back at the polls telling our representatives what we want to see in the next few years. This is a big election for both parties. I am just proud that I can vote. It wasn't that long ago that our great grandmothers and grandmothers were out picketing and having hunger strikes so that we could have this privilege.
My father is a lawyer and spent part of his career writing laws an amendments. He and my mother instilled a deep appreciation of the law and the right to vote. Not once did I ever learn who either voted for, but we have lively discussions around the kitchen table about the issues and candidates.
I thought today would be fitting to share one of my personal heroes with you. You have probably heard of her, but I thought today of all days would be a good day to share her with you. Her name is Alice Paul. She was born in 1885 to Quaker parents. She grew up on a farm in Paulsdale New Jersey. It was an idyllic life.
The Quakers believe that men and women are equal. They also support both men and women seeking a higher education. Alice Paul was able to attend Swarthmore College where she got a degree. From there she attended the University of Pennsylvania where she received a MA and a PhD. Then it was off to Washington College of Law for a LLB and American University for a LLM doctorate. Whew!
After school she did an internship in England. There she met several suffragettes and learned the art of picketing, fasting, and getting arrested. They believed that the more attention and press they drew the more people would join in with them. Back in the United States she joined the National American Woman Suffrage Association. As they were not able to get the job done she formed the National Women's Party.
They began to picket outside the White House and soon were arrested and sent to jail. There the suffragettes were beaten, force fed when they fasted and generally abused. There have been several movies made about this particular fight. Each worth viewing. Finally released due to public pressure. The idea of women voting became a national topic.
The 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote was passed in 1920. Shortly after this Alice Paul became the original author of the Equal Rights Amendment. It first went up for vote in 1922. Not till 1972 was it taken seriously and was passed. 38 states had to ratify the amendment for it to pass. Alice Paul passed away in 1977. Seeing her beloved Amendment passed yet not ratified. The Equal Rights Amendment was given an extension till 1982, it has come up before Congress every term. The Equal Rights Amendment has still not been ratified. I personally find this to be shocking!
Alice Paul and the suffragettes left us a legacy of women's rights. They have given us a voice. If you do not vote you are not using your voice. Today and every day I want to hear your voices - voting for the things that make this world a better place for women and the people that mean so much to us. Sing!
Thank you so much Alice Paul and the women who stood beside you for the rights you have given me.