In This Election Year, The Belmont-Paul Park Site: Force-feeding and Imprisonment Could Not Stop Suffragist Alice Paul
From the National Park Service celebrating its centennial this year; Library of Congress photograph
"The Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument contains the most complete collection of women's suffrage and equal rights movement documents and artifacts in America. These resources help tell the story of women in America and one that will now be told by the best storytellers in the business — the National Park Service."
Force-feeding and imprisonment could not stop suffragist Alice Paul's march forward. A new park site would tell her story.
"This is a major step toward ensuring our national parks tell more diverse stories, including those about women's history," said Theresa Pierno, president and CEO for the National Parks Conservation Association. "Alice Paul, one of the greatest women's rights advocates and political strategists in American history, led the National Woman's Party from this site, which has historic, cultural, economic, and educational significance. We all owe President Obama our gratitude for creating a more inclusive National Park System, and specifically for ensuring future generations learn about the women’s suffrage and equal rights movement."
"Women’s history is America's history,” said Page Harrington, executive director for the Sewall-Belmont House & Museum. "From the efforts of the early suffragists to those who continue to work for equal rights today, these important stories deserve to be told and shared with our nation."
The Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument will be the ninth national park site that specifically commemorates women's history.
This national monument, formerly known as the Sewall-Belmont House and Museum, was the home of Alice Paul and the headquarters for the National Woman's Party. Paul founded the National Woman's Party in 1916 to further the cause of full equality for women and the site became a center for feminist education and social change. The group helped to pass hundreds of pieces of legislation, including the 19th Amendment, which gave women in every US state the right to vote (though many African-American women remained unable to vote for several decades). The monument includes a museum with some of the best resources on women's suffrage and equal rights in the country.
The new national monument, located just steps away from the US Capitol Building and National Mall, served as the headquarters for the National Woman's Party (NWP). Founded by Alice Paul in 1916, the NWP targeted Congress and the White House through marches, hunger strikes, speaking tours, and other forms of non-violent protest to garner support for the suffrage movement.
The 19th Amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote, also referred to as the Susan B. Anthony Amendment, passed Congress in 1919 and was ratified in 1920. Even after the ratification of the 19th Amendment, the National Woman's Party continued working for full equality for women — a struggle that continues today.
While establishing the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument will be done through an executive action, there have been congressional efforts to permanently honor and safeguard the site since 1974.
Most recently, in the current 114th Congress, Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) introduced the Sewall-Belmont House Act of 2015 (S. 1975) in August 2015 to "… establish the Sewall-Belmont House National Historic Site as a unit of the National Park System." This bipartisan bill is supported by more than two-thirds of all current female senators.
After more than 40 years, America will have a new national park site established to specifically tell the story of women's suffrage and equal rights movements to future generations.
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