Women’s Crusade For Equality | Patricia D. Wirth

Nationally renowned historian and author Edith Mayo ends her suffrage presentations with these simple, but profound words: “Visibility in the past; empowerment in the present.” The Turning Point Suffragist Memorial Association’s purpose is to educate, inspire and empower present and future generations to remain vigilant in the quest for equal rights for all – not just women, but equality for women would be a great place to start!

The Suffragist Memorial will honor the five million women – from every state, creed, race and nationality – who fought 72 years to win enfranchisement; the Turning Point Institute will provide age-appropriate insight, training and skills to catalyst young women into leadership roles aimed at achieving equality. Without the Equal Rights Amendment American women are not equal under the Constitution according to the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, but having the memorial as a stop on The Constitution Trail in Virginia will place it among prominent, well-known historical sites to raise visibility toward such empowerment as Ms. Mayo advocates. Without the right to vote, women – YOU – would not have been able to advance in education, employment, wealth, civil rights, business ownership, parental rights, etc.

Turning Point has 25 months to raise $2,000,000 to construct the memorial in time for the 100th anniversary of certification of the 19th Amendment that gave all American women the right to vote.

Please get involved! Donate or volunteer; we cannot do this alone. www.suffragistmemorial. org. Contact Pat Wirth with your questions, pwirth@suffragistmemorial.org or 703-201-3171.

By: Patricia D. Wirth, Executive Director Turning Point Suffragist Memorial

Remaining Vigilant For Equal Rights Part 1 | By Patricia Depew Wirth

Va_Woman_Magazine_July_Aug_2016_Page_24“To educate, inspire and empower present and future generations to remain vigilant in the quest for equal rights” is the mission of the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial Association (Turning Point). Our country has not earned an A for how it has handled equal rights, beginning with our treatment of Native American Indians. When John Adams went off to Philadelphia to participate in the drafting of the Declaration of

Our country has not earned an A for how it has handled equal rights, beginning with our treatment of Native American Indians. When John Adams went off to Philadelphia to participate in the drafting of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, his wife, Abigail, sent him the following (spelling is hers):

“…I long to hear that you have declared an independency — and by the way in the new Code of Laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make I desire you would Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favourable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could. If perticuliar care and attention is not paid to the Laidies we are determined to foment
a Rebelion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation.

That your Sex are Naturally Tyrannical is a Truth so thoroughly established as to admit of no dispute, but such of you as wish to be happy willingly give up the harsh title of Master for the more tender and endearing one of Friend. Why then, not put it out of the power of the vicious and the providence under your protection and in immitation of the Supreem Being make use of that power only for our happiness …”

Well, that clearly didn’t happen. The Declaration of Independence said, “all men are created equal,” but that did not mean mankind, i.e., women or Negros. The Constitution was passed thirteen years later in 1789 and it did not include women or Negros. While Amendment XIII abolished slavery in 1865 after the Civil War, it did not afford Negros equal rights. Amendment XV passed in 1870 and says: The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. WOMEN WERE NOT CONSIDERED CITIZENS – only Negro men gained the right to vote!

Three decades later in 1920 women became enfranchised when the XIX Amendment was ratified. In 2011, the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia opined that women do not have constitutional protection against discrimination; hence the continued effort by millions to get the Equal Rights Amendment ratified; three more states are needed.

Please help us turn this vision into reality. Contact us at www. suffragistmemorial.org and contribute to our fundraising efforts. Establish a giving circle with an organization to which you belong. We can provide presentations, costumed monologues and materials. Introduce us to individuals or companies with which our project resonates. Please contact me with your questions:  pwirth@suffragistmemorial.org or 703-201-3171.

By Patricia Depew Wirth

The Suffragist Movement, Still Relevant Today | By Patricia Depew Wirth

LoudounMayJune2016HighResNoBleeds_Page_31Women in America fought tirelessly for every“right” that is now enjoyed by the masses; yet the  struggle for equality continues and is never over. These rights and accomplishments are taken for
granted because the struggles to achieve them and the women involved were conspicuously omitted from mainstream history. In 1980, Molly Murphy MacGregor and others founded the National Women’s  History Project (NWHP) in Santa Rosa, CA, to broadcast women’s historical achievements. At that  time, no more than 3% of the content in texts was devoted to women! THREE PERCENT! The NWHP  convinced Congress and the White House of the need for our nation to celebrate and recognize  women’s role in history on an annual basis. As a result of their efforts, President Carter  officially designated the week of March 8th (International Women’s Day) as National Women’s  History Week.

“From the first settlers who came to our shores, from the first American Indian families who befriended  them, men and women have worked together to build this nation. Too often the women were unsung and sometimes their contributions went unnoticed. But the achievements, leadership, courage, strength  and love of the women who built America was as vital as that of the men whose names we know so  well.

As Dr. Gerda Lerner has noted, ‘Women’s History is Women’s Right.’ – It is an essential and indispensable heritage from which we can draw pride, comfort, courage, and long-range vision.

I ask my fellow Americans to recognize this heritage with appropriate activities during  National Women’s History Week, March 2-8, 1980. I urge libraries, schools, and community organizations to focus their observances on the leaders who struggled for equality – – Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth, Lucy Stone, Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Harriet Tubman, and Alice Paul.

Understanding the true history of our country will help us to comprehend the need for full equality  under the law for all our people.

This goal can be achieved by ratifying the 27th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which  states that “Equality of Rights underthe Law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex. ” – President Jimmy Carter.

In 1987, NWHP led the successful campaign to have the entire month of March declared  National Women’s History Month. Relentless, female advocacy is what makes the difference in gaining equality for women. Tuesday, April 12, 2016 was Equal Pay Day. Until the Equal Rights Amendment, written by suffragist Alice Paul, is ratified by three more  states as President Carter called for in 1980, American women continue to be denied full citizenship/equality and have to fight for it piece meal with legislation such as the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. You all know that at the rate we are going, women will not earn equal pay until 2059. Why does this matter? Because  over a 47-year working career a woman with a HS education will earn $700,000 less than a man, with a BS $1,200,000 less and with a graduate degree, $2,000,000 less!

April 12th was also the day that President Obama designated the Sewell-Belmont House  as the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument. This historic mansion on Capitol Hill continues to serve as the headquarters for the National Woman’s Party formed by Alice Paul in 1916. Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. If we fail to recognize the work of the suffragists who were the first female activists fighting for equality, we run the risk of  seeing our rights eroded by those who think“women are a lesser cut of meat” than a man per South Carolina politician, Tom Corbin!

The Turing Point Suffragist Memorial Association’s mission is to build a national memorial to  commemorate and educate the uninformed about the suffrage struggle, but that is not all. Our Turning Point Institute – to be launched upon completion of the memorial – will use the suffragists as role models to form the foundation of our intended programs for middle and high school girls from around the country. We want to educate, inspire and empower present and future generations to remain vigilant in the quest for equal rights. As Present Obama said at the Belmont-Paul Equal Rights National Monument dedication, “That’s the thing about America—we are never finished. We are a constant work in progress.”

2020 is the centennial anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution giving all  American women the right to vote. There is no national monument to honor the millions of  suffragists who fought for 72 years to win this right and to finally include us in the Constitution. This is a travesty! These women were warriors; Inez Milholland lost her life, Susan B. Anthony and Alice Paul forgave having families of their own to concentrate on their advocacy.

The decades-long, peaceful “struggle” turned bloody in 1917 when scores of suffragists were  arrested and jailed at President Wilson’s direction for picketing the White House. The women taken to the Occoquan Workhouse, ages 19 to 73, were beaten, some unconscious, and kept in deplorable, inhumane conditions. It was not until word leaked out that action was finally taken to get Congress to consider an Amendment.

Patricia D. Wirth
Executive Director
Turning Point Suffragist Memorial

The Turning Point Suffragist Memorial | Patricia Depew Wirth

LoudounJanFeb2016HR_Page_35You have the opportunity to become part of American history. How? By supporting the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial Association, which is on track to build a national, garden-style memorial by 2020 – the centennial anniversary of the 19th Amendment. It will commemorate the thousands of women who fought for 72 years to win the vote for all American women and, once-and-for-all, set the record straight by including the entire suffrage movement history not just the parts male authors decided to include in our school text books.

A memorial is intended to capture a significant person or event in perpetuity. Did you know that only 8% of American monuments/memorials in the
U.S. are dedicated to women? Let’s do something about that and build a memorial that will educate, inspire, and empower present and future generations to remain vigilant in the quest for equal rights.

How can you help? Please make a donation! Funds must be raised privately (once it is built, NOVA Parks will maintain the memorial). Introduce us to your friends and organizations with whom our project will resonate. Help us identify vendors who will donate in-kind materials and labor to construct the memorial. Some of our national partners include the League of Women Voters, US, NAWBO and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

We can establish Giving Circles and you and your friends and family can have money allocated accordingly. A donation of a minimum of $1,000 will be included on our Donor Wall with your name or message. Make checks payable to TPSMA and mail to 5400 Ox Road, Fairfax Station, VA 22039 or pay electronically through our website www.suffragistmemorial.org. You can establish reoccurring, electronic payments to spread out your donation. Contact me any time with your questions – pwirth@suffragistmemorial.org or 703.201.3171

Patricia D. Wirth, Executive Director
Turning Point Suffragist Memorial

The Turning Point Suffragist Memorial | Patricia D. Wirth

LoudounNovDec2015HighResNoBleeds_Page_37Are you a feminist – an advocate for social, political, legal, and economic rights for women equal to those of men? The word may have its roots in the 20th century, but thousands of women and some men defined it on a large scale beginning in earnest in the mid-19th century. The American women’s suffrage movement involved thousands of women from every state, color, creed and nationality; it lasted over seventy years and hardly anyone knows anything about it! It was the genesis of the women’s rights movement much of which was omitted from history and our national consciousness because it never made it into our text books. The male authors ignored the significance of the movement and condensed those thousands of women and seven decades of determination, tenacity and accomplishments into a couple of paragraphs in the chapter on the Progressive Era (1890-1920). The first four decades were ignored abridging a significant piece of American women’s history.

Officially, the movement began with the Seneca Falls Convention in July 1848. The outcome of the two-day conference was the Declaration of Sentiments which listed the many inequities women suffered under the legal and political systems, i.e., they could not vote, they had to submit to laws the formation of which they had no voice, they had no representation in government, married women were civilly dead in the eyes of the law, husbands had the right to all his wife’s property and earned wages and could have her thrown in jail if he decided she had committed a crime, they could not become doctors or lawyers and could not attend college — the list went on and on!

The convention framed a national discussion about women’s rights that spawned numerous leaders and organizations. Susan B. Anthony joined the movement and became its symbolic face, but she died more than a decade before women were enfranchised. At the beginning of the 20th century, suffragists Carrie Chapman Catt and Alice Paul each rose to national prominence within their respective suffrage parties. Catt sought suffrage through state-by-state legislation while Paul focused solely on a Constitutional amendment. Paul’s National Woman’s Party (NWP) used what were considered “militant tactics” to generate publicity and awareness – peaceful marches and picketing the White House. In 1917 hundreds of NWP members were arrested and jailed for silently holding banners in front of the White House. Those sent to the Occoquan Workhouse in Lorton, Virginia, endured humiliation, beatings, solitary confinement, forced feedings and inhumane prison conditions complete with rats and maggot-infested food. When word leaked out about this barbaric treatment, it became a significant turning point in compelling President Wilson to urge Congress to pass the 19th Amendment.

This bloodless revolution ended with Ratification of the 19th Amendment on August 26, 1920, 72 years after the Seneca Falls Convention. It was also when the American woman finally entered the Constitution. We owe a debt of gratitude to the thousands of courageous and tenacious women who engineered the greatest expansion of democracy on a single day the world has ever seen. Twenty-two million women became eligible to vote with the stroke of a pen.

The Turning Point Suffragist Memorial Association is raising funds to build a national, garden-style memorial in Occoquan Regional Park, part of the prison grounds where Alice Paul’s suffragists were jailed and beaten. It will recall the entire suffrage history and pay tribute to these revolutionaries who ultimately won the right to vote, the first major step to equality. There is no other memorial in the country that commemorates all these women and their accomplishments. Our mission to educate, inspire and empower visitors will far exceed a contemplative walk through the memorial garden.

Consider gifting a tax deductible donation to your women friends and family in any denomination; donations of $1,000 or more will permanently inscribe their name on the memorial’s Donor Wall. When asked what you want for the holidays, suggest a donation to Turning Point. Wishing you and your loved ones a joyous holiday season!

Patricia D. Wirth,
Executive Director Turning Point Suffragist Memorial

Turning Point Suffragist Memorial Association | Patricia Wirth

LoudounJulAug2015_Page_29Business Women – Why you should care!

Ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920 was the true genesis of women’s rights in our country! But do you know the names of these women? Eleanor Clift – author and political analyst, puts it succinctly…

“They engineered the greatest expansion of democracy on a single day the world had ever seen, and yet suffrage faded from public memory almost as
soon as it happened. The leaders built no monuments to themselves, and too many of their names have been lost to history.”

It’s a rewarding undertaking to finally commemorate and tell the sweeping story of the thousands of women who fought tirelessly for 72 years not just to gain the right to vote with the ratification of the 19th Amendment, but as the moment when all American women secured full citizenship and entry into the Constitution! The “story” will emphasize the suffragists imprisoned at the Occoquan Workhouse for picketing the White House. When word leaked out about the deplorable conditions and violent treatment, it became a significant turning point in the struggle for suffrage.

We envision this national memorial as the third stop on our region’s “Constitutional Trail;” beginning at Mt. Vernon, home of George Washington, we recognize Washington’s contribution as chair of the Constitutional Convention where he advocated for a democratic electoral process – no monarchs – and became our first elected President. Next stop is Gunston Hall, home of George Mason, author of the Bill of Rights. Last stop, the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial, which celebrates the American women’s full franchise into the Constitution!

The garden-style memorial will be located within Occoquan Regional Park which was originally part of the prison property where the suffragists were incarcerated. The park is being redeveloped into a magnificent cultural center that has been funded by the sale of bonds by NOVA Parks. The Association must raise private funds for construction of the two-acre memorial, a cost of $7 million. NOVA Parks will maintain the memorial in perpetuity upon completion. Our target is to be operational for the centennial celebration of ratification of the 19th Amendment, August, 2020.

Our mission to educate, inspire and empower visitors will far exceed the historical. Upon completion of the memorial, we will scrutinize the skills and characteristics these suffragist women successfully employed which will form the foundation of our ongoing programs to include topics such as leadership, public speaking, political candidacy, social responsibility, fiscal acumen, equal rights, etc. as they apply to the present and future. Our students will be diverse, from all socioeconomic quarters and hail from all parts of the country – just like the suffragists!

How can you help? Check out our website, www.suffragistmemorial.org. Please join our association and/or make a donation. Contact us with your questions and join a committee. We are working toward raising $1 million by November 30, 2015 to meet the terms of our MOU with NOVA Parks.

Our current campaign, A “Grand” Thank You, Memorialize the  Suffragists, is seeking 1,000 donors (individuals or groups) who will give $1,000. The goal is to have the $7 million memorial built no later than the hundred year anniversary of the 19th Amendment, 2020, but completion by 2017 to commemorate the incarcerations at the Occoquan Workhouse is preferred. Please spread the word about the TPSM and about what these women endured.

Like us on Facebook and get on our distribution list.

By: Patricia D. Wirth
Executive Director Turning Point Suffragist Memorial

Voting Rights For Women (Part 2) |Patricia Wirth

LWM_MJ15_web_Page_23[Continued from March/April 2015 Edition]

In 1916, Alice Paul and Lucy Burns broke ties with NAWSA and established the National Women’s Party (NWP) that included public demonstrations
and protests, methods considered militant at the time. These efforts became the final fight to win the vote through a Constitutional amendment. In January 1917, Paul, Burns and other NWP members began to peacefully picket outside the White House to galvanize public support. They became known as the Silent Sentinels. When America entered WWI, public sentiment changed toward the protesters and beginning in June 1917 the suffragists were arrested on bogus charges such as unlawful assembly or obstructing traffic. Sentences were initially light, but when they didn’t deter the suffragists, sentences became longer and fines outrageous. When the suffragists refused to pay the fines on the grounds that they were innocent of the charges, they were incarcerated in retaliation either in the DC jail or the Occoquan Workhouse, a prison farm operated by the DC penal system. Over time more than 200 women were incarcerated.

About a third of those suffragists imprisoned were sent to the Occoquan Workhouse – some for as long as seven months, many in solitary confinement – where they endured humiliation, beatings, forced feedings and inhumane prison conditions complete with rats and maggot-infested food. Their crime: they wanted equality!

These women ranged in age from 19 to 73 and came from many different states. Some were recent immigrants and others were from well-established, politically connected families one of whom had attended a dinner with her husband at the White House. Many were college-educated and married, and included nurses, teachers, social workers, physicians and a geologist.

To protest the poor conditions at the workhouse, some suffragists, including Alice Paul and Lucy Burns, went on hunger strikes. Fearing that the suffragists would become martyrs if they starved to death, prison officials had them strapped down and force fed. Under the direction of the prison superintendent, suffragists also endured at least one brutal attack that took place during the night of November 14, 1917. This became known as as the Night of Terror. Word of the abusive treatment of suffragists began to leak out and editorials were published by local newspapers.

What is being done to memorialize these brave women so few of us know about? The Turning Point Suffragist Memorial Association is a 501(c)(3) dedicated to honoring the suffragists by raising awareness and building a national memorial that will reflect the strength of these women  who came from all over the country and the significance of their struggle. In partnership with NOVA Parks, the TPSM national memorial and  gardens will be located on two acres near the spot where women were imprisoned in the Occoquan Workhouse (the original building was destroyed).

By: Patricia D. Wirth
Executive Director
Turning Point Suffragist Memorial

Voting Rights for Women – The Northern Virginia Connection

LWMMarchApril2015small_Page_17It has been less than 100 years since women in the United States gained the right to vote when the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920. Ask yourself where you would be today if that Amendment had not passed – by one vote, I might add. History books briefly mention the 72-year suffragist movement, but omit a little-known, critical chapter that took place right here in Northern Virginia at the Occoquan Workhouse. Let’s examine how and why that happened and what the Turing Point Suffragist Memorial Association (TPMS) has to do with it.

Officially, the suffrage movement in the U.S. began with the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848 convened by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott. A “Declaration of Sentiments” based on the Declaration of Independence resulted. In it were listed the many inequities women suffered under the legal and political systems: no voice in the laws, no independent rights after marriage, no custody of children in case of divorce, no right to a college education, no opportunity to enter most professions and no right to vote. Many in attendance did not support women’s right to vote, but social reformer Frederick Douglas eloquently persuaded for its inclusion.

The convention framed a national discussion about women’s rights in America and marked the beginning of a massive civil rights movement that would spawn numerous women’s rights organizations and span the next seven decades. The right to vote was seen as the first step to change the traditional and unjust systems that existed against women. Susan B. Anthony entered the movement in 1852 when she joined forces with Stanton. Together they started the National Woman Suffrage Association which eventually merged with the American Woman Suffragist Association to become the National America Woman Suffragist Association (NAWSA). Under the leadership of Carrie Chapman Catt, the NAWSA served as the parent organization for hundreds of state and local organizations, and its membership swelled into the millions.

On the eve of President Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration, March 3, 1913, then 28-year old Alice Paul, a member of the NAWSA Congressional Committee, organized more than 5,000 women and men from across the country and around the world to march through Washington, DC. Led by lawyer Inez Milholland riding upon a white horse, it took six hours to traverse the unruly crowd estimated at 500,000 who jeered and threatened them, but they refused to back down.

Collegiate women of the newly established sorority at Howard University, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., joined the march as did many from the National Association of Colored Women including Ida B. Wells. Black women suffragists were frequently discriminated against by white suffragist organizations because of demands made by southern, white women. However, black men had gained the vote after the Civil War and black women, now too, crusaded for their right to vote (to be continued in our May/June 2015 Issue).

By: Patricia D. Wirth

All rights reserved Ruby Red Press LLC 2016