Burns headed the NWP’s lobbying in Congress, edited the NWP’s journal The Suffragist, and spent more time in prison than any other American suffragist. Burns led political campaigns in western states, many of which already had woman suffrage, urging women to vote against Democrats as long as the Party refused to pass suffrage. She organized White House demonstrations against Wilson, was arrested, hunger struck, and force-fed.
After women won the right to vote with the 19th Amendment in 1920, Paul devoted herself to working on additional empowerment measures. In 1923, she introduced the first Equal Rights Amendment in Congress and in later decades worked on a civil rights bill and fair employment practices. Although she did not live to see the ERA added to the U.S. Constitution (to date it remains unratified), she did get an equal rights affirmation included in the preamble to the United Nations charter.
After her graduation in 1909, Milholland made her first appearance as a suffrage orator, stopping a New York campaign parade for President William Howard Taft when she began speaking through a megaphone from a window in a building the parade was passing. As she spoke hundreds of men broke ranks to see and hear her, thus beginning her reputation as the one of the most powerful, persuasive, and beautiful orators in the suffrage movement. In the same year, Milholland applied to the law schools at Yale, Harvard, and Columbia only to be rejected on the basis of her sex. Eventually, she entered the New York University School of Law from which she would receive a law degree in 1912. While studying for her degree, Milholland continued her suffrage work as well as other social activism, most notably participating in the shirtwaist and laundry worker strikes in New York City, for which she was arrested.
Look at your daughter.
Look at all your daughters. Cecile Richards. Jennifer Granholm. Tammy Duckworth. Barbara Boxer. Tammy Baldwin. Actresses I’m too old to know without Google and singers I’m too young to have heard in their primes. Katy Perry, for chrissakes. Look at those women.
Look at them.
It’s hard to see the end of something. To work for justice, to work for peace, to work for the betterment of another is to accept that your work will never be completed. There will always be more to do. You will never be able to lay down your burdens and on your deathbed you will wish you could have done more. Every minute you’re not working will feel like something you are stealing from the mouths of the hungry. That will be as true as it is unfair.
This isn’t the end of something.
Hillary’s nomination doesn’t mean sexism is over (GAH, if only) and it doesn’t mean women can all eat and pray and love and it doesn’t mean justice has been achieved for the women who had to suffer for this woman to succeed. There are too many wrongs for one week to right them all, even a week like last week.
It does mean we’ve expanded, just a little bit, what America looks like. From the stage last week we heard voice after voice that at one time or another in my own lifetime would have seemed unlikely if not impossible: black, Hispanic, young, old, Muslim, Sikh, transgender, disabled, disadvantaged, victimized, counted out. And every one was met by the roar of a crowd that knows from dreams denied, and knows that individual victories aren’t everything, that they aren’t anything but another inch forward, and inches are how we move.
What caused the opposition so much angst at their convention two weeks ago was the idea of an America that doesn’t look like them anymore. Not old, not white, not male, not exclusively, and that scares the shit out of them, because they’re not confident they have any qualities to recommend them beyond their race and sex. They look at a lineup like the DNC put on, capped off by a woman’s voice as the ultimate authority, and they think that’s a threat, instead of a promise.
They think it’s a bowl of sugar and there’s only so much, and if we let everybody in we can’t let everybody stay, and it’s because they can’t imagine themselves on the outside of anything. It’s so small and so sad and always has been. There is room for all of us, and nobody has to be less so that someone else can be more.
Look at that, I kept saying to people who were nearby while I was watching. And, look at that. And look at that.
Look at him. Look at her. And her. And her.
Look at us.