Sunday, March 01, 2009

Women's History Month - Alice Paul

"I never doubted that equal rights was the right direction. Most reforms, most problems are complicated. But to me there is nothing complicated about ordinary equality."
-Alice Paul

I knew that women didn't always have the right to vote but that was ancient history. I didn't feel any real connection or appreciation for those old-fashioned women in their long white dresses who marched and protested and were arrested. Sure, it was wrong not to allow women to vote but that wrong was righted 60 years before I voted for the first time. As I said, ancient history.

Then I saw Alice Paul. Not in person - she had been dead for about 20 years before I became aware of her existence - but on a documentary. She was dressed in a powder blue sheath dress with a matching pillbox hat . . . looking very much like she was ready to teach Sunday School at the local FBC. Like she was ready to meet her other little-old-lady friends for a book club luncheon. As I watched, it hit me like a ton of bricks that I had this little-old-lady to thank for something I had always taken for granted.

Alice Paul had been instrumental in the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. She spent the rest of her life working to get the Equal Rights Amendment passed. (Remember that one? Don't hear much about it these days, do you?) Here are a couple of links, just in case you want to know more about this amazing woman:

Alice Paul's Fight for Suffrage

Alice Paul Institute

Alice Paul is one of those little-known heroes who helped to shape how we live today. I'm sorry I didn't know about her when I was growing up but I'm happy that I can share her with others now. WooHoo for Alice Paul!

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