Denise Oliver Velez sums up the importance of women marching for the vote 100 years ago:
March 3, 1913, was a major milestone in the battle for women in the United States to achieve national suffrage. Over 8,000 women and male supporters marched through the streets of Washington, D.C., on the day before President Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration. Though attacked by viewers, and women who marched suffered injury, the parade route was completed by most of the marchers and brought national attention to the suffrage movement.
The idea of women voting was so offensive at the time that they were attacked. Three hundred marchers were injured, a third of them seriously enough to be taken to the hospital.
It wasn’t until 1920–seven years later–that women gain the franchise. We tend to take women’s right to vote for granted, but Velez warns us to stay vigilant and vigorously battle the erosion of hard-won voting rights.
It is fitting that we not only explore this history during Women’s History Month, but that we take heed of the fact that though victories may have been won in the past, this is no time to rest on laurels, since efforts have been under way to erode the vote for many women—particularly women of color and the elderly—and just as suffragists had to fight to win the vote, we have to fight to keep the rights we have won and expand them.
The Suffrage Parade did initiate reforms, especially with respect to the battery of the marchers. Three days after the march, the Senate held several days of hearings resulting in the replacement of District of Columbia’s superintendent of police.
- 1913: A beginning more modern than intended (susanbarsy.com)
- Cool Day in History: “We want bread and roses too” (coolrevolution.net)
- Cool Day in History: The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, 1963 (coolrevolution.net)