FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NATIONAL WOMEN’S HISTORY MUSEUM ANNOUNCES LAUNCH OF SUFFRAGE CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION IN THE NATION’S CAPITAL MARCH 1 – 3, 2013
Washington, D.C. (January 17, 2013) The National Women’s History Museum (NWHM) is pleased to announce a leading role in the upcoming Suffrage Centennial Celebration in Washington, D.C., March 1 – 3, 2013. The weekend will be a national celebration of women winning the vote and the power of their ballot, honoring a victory that took three generations and 72 years. It will highlight events beginning in 1913 that put suffrage in the national spotlight, and in 1920, secured women’s voting rights through the Nineteenth Amendment now enshrined in the Constitution.
“We’re dedicated to bringing this pivotal time in women’s history alive and are thrilled to join with other organizations and institutions—and women and men across the country—to embrace this grand Suffrage Centennial Celebration,” said Joan Wages, President and CEO of the National Women’s History Museum.
March is National Women’s History Month throughout the nation, but the DC kickoff is tailor-made for the many hungering for a richer slice of women’s history than that served up by most history books. Women weren’t “given the right to vote,” and suffrage pioneers Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony were far from the movement’s only heroines.
Young suffragists and master strategists Alice Paul and Lucy Burns arrived in DC as 1913 began. They were impatient, fed up with state-by-state efforts that, after 65 years, had brought women voting rights in just 10 states—mostly western states eager to attract women. Only 60 days later, their historic women’s suffrage procession down Pennsylvania Avenue on March 3, 1913, signaled pursuit of a new national strategy– a constitutional amendment to win voting rights and a desire for the national spotlight.
Some 8,000 marchers came from every state in the nation and from every country where women already had the vote. Early cheers for the women turned to jeers. Police stood by as onlookers harassed and attacked those marching, injuring 200 — half were hospitalized with serious injuries. Press coverage of the mayhem stunned the nation, and shifted attention away from president-elect Wilson’s inauguration the next day.
By 1917, Alice Paul and Lucy Burns’ “Silent Sentinels” were the first to picket the White House for a cause, braving the elements to demand voting rights. When World War I broke out, their persistence during wartime led to harassment and violence against them. Their peaceful protests brought prison sentences and threats of asylums for the women, not their attackers. Word of brutal conditions at Occoquan Workhouse and serious abuse by prison guards leaked out, causing more public outrage. By refusing to respond in kind, the women pioneered the first nonviolent civil action in America.
Resistance to suffrage in some states continued unabated, but increasing pressure on Congress and state legislators led to the narrow passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920. National ratification came with a single, changed vote in favor of suffrage in Tennessee.
On Saturday, March 2, the National Women’s History Museum will partner with anecdota, a New York-based theatre company, to present first-ever multimedia staged readings of the critically acclaimed Off Broadway play, “Take What Is Yours.” Dubbed “a psychological thriller about the woman’s suffrage movement…riveting…powerful” by The New York Times, the play earned NY Times and BACKSTAGE “Critics’ Picks” last May.
Composed in the words of Alice Paul, the National Woman’s Party and documents of the time, the play is being adapted for large audiences by its co-writers Erica Fae and Jill A. Samuels. The multimedia staged readings will feature New York actors Erica Fae as Alice Paul during her imprisonment in 1917, and Wayne Maugans as “The Man.” Accompanied by video from the play and a stunning original sound score, the piece will be presented in The George Washington University Lisner Auditorium on March 2nd, at 2 PM and at 8 PM. The staged readings are being held as a fundraiser in support of the National Women’s History Museum. Tickets will be available through GW Lisner Auditorium’s Box Office or by links through www.NWHM.org and www.suffrage-centennial.org.
Wages noted, “As a museum still yearning for a site on the Mall, “Take What Is Yours” shows precisely the kind of history forgotten by history books but important to women. Alice Paul was a brave visionary—a pioneer of nonviolent civil action. Gandhi, Martin Luther King and many others have looked to her legacy for inspiration.” Wages added “I’ll leave you with one astonishing fact – there is no women’s history museum in any nation’s capital in the world. We want the National Women’s History Museum to be the first to show the full scope of the history of a nation’s women and serve as a beacon to people everywhere. It will be looked upon as proof that America is truly a place of liberty and justice for all.”
On Saturday, March 2 at 11 AM, the NWHM will also host a panel discussion about the fight for suffrage, moderated by Ann Lewis, who served as Chair of the Clinton Administration Commission on Celebrating Women’s History. Being presented at GW Lisner Auditorium, the panel will feature leading experts on the topic.
NWHM will also offer a month-long public exhibit on suffrage at the National Press Club. The exhibit will preview Thursday night, February 28 at a private reception featuring key women leaders, and hosted by the newly elected president of the National Press Club, Angela Keane of Bloomberg News. On Friday evening, March 1, the Ambassador of Finland, Rivta Koukku-Rode, and NWHM President & CEO, Joan Wages, will co-host a private reception geared to the international and diplomatic community.
NWHM’s key partners in the weekend-long event are the Sewall-Belmont House & Museum and UNITEWOMEN.ORG. To date, other participating organizations in the Suffrage Centennial Celebration include the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, the Newseum, American Association of University Women, Daughters of the American Revolution, Delta Sigma Theta, the National Archives, the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial, the National Press Club, The George Washington University Lisner Auditorium, and Cultural Tourism, D.C.
Complete exhibit and event information about the Suffrage Centennial Celebration March 1-3, 2013 in Washington, DC can be found on the website at www.suffrage-centennial.org. Facebook (facebook.com/SuffrageCentennialCelebration) and other social media platforms will also have information. Check regularly on that website or link from NWHM’s own website www.nwhm.org for ongoing updates, a link to tickets for staged readings of “Take What Is Yours,” and available VIP packages.
About the National Women’s History Museum
Founded in 1996, The National Women’s History Museum is a nonpartisan, nonprofit educational institution dedicated to preserving, interpreting, and celebrating the diverse historic contributions of women and integrating this rich heritage fully into our nation’s history, currently located online at www.nwhm.org. Legislation is underway to purchase federally owned land on which to build the National Women’s History Museum. The site will border several of the nation’s most iconic museums on the National Mall. A coalition of 48 business and professional women’s organizations representing eight million members supports NWHM’s efforts for a permanent site, along with 50,000 members who have supported the Museum. The women’s coalition has publically advocated for building the Museum near the National Mall. NWHM is a 501(c) (3) organization.
Jan Du Plain – 202-486-7004