On November 14, 2019, GFWC Florida members Jolie Frankfurth, Shannon Bailey and Mary Powell had the privilege of attending the groundbreaking ceremony of the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial in Fairfax County, Virginia, with members of the GFWC International Executive Committee. This memorial will commemorate the passage of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution, giving women the right to vote.
November 14 was not an arbitrary date selected at random. On November 14, 1917, Alice Paul, Lucy Burns and 31 other women were subjected to torture and abuse from guards at the Occoquan Workhouse, 20 miles outside Washington, D.C. The charges these women were detained for included obstructing traffic and other minimal offenses with sentences up to 60 days. From the History Channel, “Burns had her hands shackled to the top of a cell, forcing her to stand all night; the guards also threatened her with a straitjacket and a buckle gag. Day (the future founder of the Catholic Worker Movement) was slammed her down on the arm of an iron bench twice. Dora Lewis lost consciousness after her head was smashed into an iron bed; Alice Cosu, seeing Lewis’ assault, suffered a heart attack, and didn’t get medical attention until the following morning.” The news of their poor treatment began to leak out and support for the suffragist movement increased.
Members of the National Woman’s Party (NWP), led by Alice Paul and Lucy Burns and the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), led by Carrie Chapman Catt, finally saw their efforts rewarded with the passage of the 19th Amendment. However, ratification by the States dragged on for over a year but on August 18, 1920, the 38th state ratified the Amendment, giving women the right to vote.