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  • Writer's picturelisaannettestanley

The Remarkable Parallels between Rep John Lewis & Women's Rights Legend Alice Paul.

Women's Suffrage Parade, Washington DC, March 3, 1913
Inez Mulholland leading Alice Paul's National American Woman Suffrage Association Parade one day before the Inauguration of President Woodrow Wilson

ENCORE PRESENTATION. Women's History Month Day 27. This was written in July of 2020 in preparation for the Women's Suffrage Centennial celebrating 100 years of voting rights for women, when we all heard the news that Congressman John Lewis had died.

Many in our Congressional Leadership today worked alongside Lewis & knew him for many years.

Like he was fond of saying "If you see something, say something," & I gotta believe that would apply to any kind of injustice, including the Hate Speech against women that has been Normalized by Pop Culture.

During the 2016 Presidential Campaigns when Democratic Nominee Secretary Clinton was bullied within an of her life by the person who became the 45th President of this country, out-going First Lady Michelle Obama would say:

"When they go LOW, we go High."

What was she saying?

That Two Wrongs Don't Make a Right.

This Parade, while noble in its' purpose was controversial as it was exclusionary, not inclusive - which is just a sad fact of the matter as many of today's ERA Activists would be quick to point out.

Ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment is NOT for the personal glorification of Alice Paul.

It is to IMPROVE THE LIVES OF ALL WOMEN in today's world.

People are Individuals.

When we learn to live our lives with Emotional Intelligence, we don't Scapegoat people in a discriminatory manner based on Gender or Race.

We learn to treat PEOPLE as Individuals.

In today's world, WOMEN still NEED Ratification of the #EqualRightsAmendment, the reauthorization of the #ViolenceAgainstWomenAct of 1994 PLUS a #HateSpeechBill to protect WOMEN from #HateSpeech at the #Grammys AND the #Oscars

Another sorely-needed piece of Legislation is a Bill similar to the Fairness Doctrine that was allowed to expire in August of 2011.

So we pause.

We pay our respects.

Then we carry on. Because there's still work to do.

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As the Nation remembers the Life time of Service the Gentle Giant of the Civil Rights Movement, Rep. John Lewis, I cannot help but notice the remarkable parallels between his willingness to get into what he called "Good Trouble" to sacrifice his life to service for the Public good & that of Alice Paul.

His "Good Trouble" included: Sit-Ins & Marches & Peaceful Protests in acts of Civil Disobedience.

For his "Good Trouble" he was beaten, & arrested & almost died for Civil Rights.

Like Lewis, Alice Paul also sacrificed her life for Civil Service.

Paul, like Lewis, organized Pickets & Parades & Protests & Marches for Women's Rights.

Like Lewis, Alice Paul was beaten & arrested - she was force-fed in Prison when she went on Hunger-Strike in protest, for which she almost died.

Paul's ideas were considered Radical, but her methods were Peaceful.

The acts of violence were done to her, not by her.

Alice Paul, was one of the four main Women's Rights Activists that were of the Quaker Faith, along with Lucretia Mott, Susan B. Anthony & Carrie Chapman Catt.

I find the Quaker-participation angle of the Women's Rights story of particular interest due to their fundamental belief in Equality for all, in all areas of life including Equal Education for girls.

While I've been in Houston, Texas since 1974, I had my Elementary Education in the Heart of Pennsylvania-Dutch country in Allentown (1963- 1967) before attending Grades 3-5 in Hackettstown New Jersey (1967-1972) - very close to Alice Paul's Hometown of Morristown.

My family had one final move - to Aiken, South Carolina in 1972 before landing in Houston in 1974.

I only point this out as having lived in both Northern & Southern States, and I cannot recall having ever heard of any of this until now.

In fact, I've probably had more formal Education on Civil Rights than Women's Rights, until the last three years when I began looking into this late in life.

When we look at the National struggle for Civil Rights & Equal Rights, the differences between the Fully-Integrated Northern States & the Segregated Southern States reveal a stark contrast.

Living for the first 12 years of my life in North Eastern States, all school children were fully Integrated & I never knew that life was different in other places.

Much that I've read or watched online talks about some of the division in the early Women's Rights Movements at Seneca Falls, primarily with respect to the question of Voting Rights for Women.

All of these Activists were in agreement with the Equality provisions of the Declaration of Sentiments.

It was specially the question of Suffrage for Women that became the 19th Amendment that was under contention.

From what I've seen so far, the push back on Alice Paul is that her Methodology of Civil Disobedience was seen as too Radical.

In today's World, people regularly take to the streets to protest this, that or the other thing - some protests Peaceful & others not so much - like the 2020 Street Riots that happened all across the country but still continue in Portland, Oregon; Aurora, Colorado & Seattle, Washington today.

Either way, the Struggle is real.

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