Less than 100 years ago, women were unable to vote. We were not given the right to let our voices be heard. It wasn’t until 1920 that women were finally granted the right to go to the polls and cast our ballot. Are you aware of all of the women that fought for our right to vote? This right was not given to women easily.
November 15, 1917 is referred to as the Night of Terror. Have you heard of it? (view a short video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bsy0FSX2nXo ) Iron Jawed Angels is an HBO movie that is now available for order on Amazon. The movie features Hilary Swank and details the events that occurred on November 15, 1917. (Read movie reviews here: http://movies.tvguide.com/iron-jawed-angels/review/278843 )
President Woodrow Wilson was in office at the time the Night of Terror occurred. So what happened on the Night of Terror? A group of women were leading a peaceful protest outside of the White House with neatly printed signs that stated, “Vote against Wilson, he opposes national women suffrage” and “President Wilson, How long to you advise us to wait?” But the women were quickly silenced, as Wilson and others did not want the women making a statement. Instead, Wilson wanted to make a statement of his own, he wanted to make an example of what would happen to you if you were a woman and you dared to speak your mind. If you’re thinking the women were quietly rushed back to their homes and to their husbands, you couldn’t be more wrong. Instead, the women were severely beaten and jailed. The reason? Because there were picketing the White House, carrying signs asking to vote.
One account of the evening states, “…by the end of the night, they (the women) were barely alive. Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden’s blessing went on a rampage against 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.” Other women were thrown against walls, knocked unconscious on the cold cell floors. Some women suffered heart attacks. “Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, chocking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.” It is documented that the jailed women were fed “slop” and that their food was infested with worms. This went on for weeks upon weeks. They were determined to “teach a lesson” to all women that they should never speak out.
In Iron Jawed Women, the movie states, “When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike (in jail), 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.”
Do you consider it a right or a privilege to vote? Were you taught about the Night of Terror in your school days? What will you teach your children in regards to the importance of voting- will you set a positive example? Do you vote based on what the television and radio advertisements are sharing or do you research the issues that are important to you? Do you know which candidates- both Presidential and local candidates- stand strong for women’s rights?
If you haven’t cast an early ballot, voting day is just around the corner. Will you cast your vote? Will you honor those many women who have come before us who gave their lives for us to have the right to vote, to have the right to let our voices be heard? Women, it’s time to stand up for our rights, it’s time to let our voices be heard.