Over one hundred years ago, beginning in January 1917, a group of suffragists organized by Alice Paul and the National Woman’s Party became the first group ever to protest in front of the White House. Their goal was to convince President Woodrow Wilson to support publicly an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would guarantee a woman’s right to vote. Efforts to achieve the vote had been ongoing for almost 70 years.
The protesters were called Silent Sentinels, because they protested without speaking a word six days a week, for hours on end. Throughout a two-year vigil, nearly 2,000 women picketed; hundreds were arrested, and many were jailed, beaten, went on hunger strikes, were force-fed and horribly and unjustly treated by local and U.S. authorities.
On February 24, 1919, twenty-two Massachusetts women were arrested and most were imprisoned in Boston’s Charles Street Jail for protesting during President Wilson’s arrival at the Massachusetts State House. President Wilson was visiting Boston upon his return to the U.S. after his trip to the Paris Peace Conference, which formally ended WWI.
Finally, on June 4, 1919, both houses of Congress adopted the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Only 21 days later, on June 25, 1919, Massachusetts was the eighth state to ratify the amendment. Three-quarters of the 48 states were required for ratification; when Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify, the 19th Amendment was adopted on August 26, 1920.
The Women’s Suffrage Celebration Coalition of Massachusetts (WSCC) is dedicated to commemorating and celebrating the upcoming 100th anniversary of the adoption of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, guaranteeing women the right to vote. The WSCC is planning a variety of commemoration events and activitiesto take place in Massachusetts in 2019 and 2020.
As we look ahead to 2020, we hope to involve many in our effort. Today, the WSCC is seeking 100 new donors with a suggested donation of $20.20 each. Contributions of a greater amount are welcome and much appreciated.
Your financial support of this appeal will help us accomplish our many goals:
- Host June 2019 kick-off event for a year of commemorative activities;
- Recognize and celebrate the progress of women’s rights since obtaining suffrage in 1920;
- Provide educational opportunities for all ages to learn the inspiring and dramatic history of women’s suffrage;
- Increase voter participation by motivating voters to appreciate and exercise the right to vote;
- Engage arts and cultural organizations to use this centennial as a catalyst for creative program planning;
- Shine a light on all we still need to do to achieve full equality for women and men; and
- Showcase the many dynamic and effective existing women’s rights organizations.
We hope you will become one of our new donors. Your contribution to our efforts is important to our success. When you donate $20.20, we will send you one free ticket to the Swan Boats as a token of our appreciation; if you donate $100 or more, you will receive a replica of the “Jailed for Freedom” pin. In 1917, suffragists or “prisoners of freedom” were honored and presented with this pin as a symbol of the hardship they endured and the humiliation of imprisonment. This pin reminds us of their struggle.
Please make your donation to the WSCC today!
The Massachusetts Women’s Bar Foundation is WSCC’s fiscal sponsor; therefore, your contribution is tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.
Thank you for your consideration. As the suffragists used to say: Onward!
Best wishes for a wonderful summer,
Fredie D. Kay, Esq., President