Women's Suffrage…Lead Follow or Get Out of the Way!
Redwood Mary, Executive Director of Circle the Earth
Women's Suffrage…Lead Follow or Get Out of the Way!
and a Tribute to Dona Spring~ Champion of Disability Rights, Animal Rights and Welfare, Peace and Justice and an Environmentalist Extraordinaire!
August 26 is the official day that we honor Women's Right to Vote here in the USA. The historic 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution extended suffrage to all women. It was proposed on June 4, 1919 and ratified on August 18, 1920 and was then certified by Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby on August 26th, 1920. Many woman all throughout the U.S.-- in towns and cities-- planned and demonstrated, lobbied and marched, with the support of men, to obtain our right to vote in public elections.
The Silent Sentinels, organized by suffragist and National American Women Suffrage Association's Chairperson Alice Paul, demonstrated every day and night, through every season and all types of weather (with the exception of Sundays) in front of the White House in Washington D.C. From the winter of 1917 and right through the summer of 1919 they stood steadfast and held their banners demanding the right to vote--enduring arrests and deplorable conditions when jailed at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia.
Alice Paul, while in the Occoquan Workhouse led a hunger strike to protest the horrible conditions and treatment. The women were moved to the psychiatric ward and force fed. Their story of putting their lives at risk is told in the riveting film Iron Jawed Angels- Lead Follow or Get Out of the Way! Every American household should own a copy of this film now available on DVD, featuring Hillary Swank, Frances O'Connor, Julia Ormond and Angelica Houston.
Thanks to the courage and perseverance of thousands of women (without the internet and cell phones!) and thank to the Silent Sentinels, the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution passed both houses of the U.S. Congress. The women then continued on with their hard work on the next phase for the final ratification of the 19th Amendment!
All women today are the beneficiaries of this historic struggle.
Here in Berkeley, California were are mourning one of the most amazing women elected to office, a nationally recognized champion of disability rights, animal rights and animal welfare~ an environmentalist extraordinaire—Dona Spring. Berkeley City Council Member Dona Spring left this world On July 13th.
City Council Member Spring, who graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with honors in anthropology and psychology, died of rheumatoid arthritis complications, an autoimmune disorder she battled for 36 years. Ms. Spring used a wheelchair as her chariot, leading the way advocating for at-risk youth, the elderly, the environment, animals, the poor and the disabled. She was the most loved member of the Berkeley City Council. Spring ran and won her first term to the Berkeley City Council in 1992 and holds the record for the longest-serving Green Party officeholder in the United States.
During her 27 years in community and public service she gained national attention especially with appearances on the Oprah Winfrey Show and on national Television News programs debating against the “frivolous” use of animals in research and pointing out our national addiction to oil and the alternatives available. In response to her critics for her October 2001 resolution opposing the war in Afghanistan, Spring said “Don’t there need to be voices in this country that can question whether the use of mass destruction of other countries is in our best interest?”
Dona Spring's last public appearance was with her Berkeley community in support of the Save The Oaks Tree Sitters who are still hunkered down to protect this beautiful Oak Grove next to Memorial Oak Stadium (www.saveoaks.com) while the community awaits Judge Barbara Miller's final ruling as to whether the University of California at Berkeley can proceed with their bulldozing of the grove. Dona whizzed up to the police and barricades after appearing at a press conference across from the oak grove with a bag of food in her lap for the tree sitters demanding that the University Police remove the barricades to the public sidewalk so that she and her wheel chair could gain access. Dona was fighting for the tree sitters to get adequate food and water which they have been denied thanks to the triple barriers that have been set up between the tree sitters and public.
Dona was hospitalized shortly thereafter.
“Courage in Life and Politics: the Dona Spring Story,” a film available on DVD by Lindsey Vurek and Valerie Trost, exemplifies what an elected official can be and tells the story of this unstoppable passionate woman who did not sell out to special interests. The film was to be a living tribute to Dona and the film's first Screening in Berkeley was scheduled to coincide with Dona attending in person. Instead Dona passed away and the films première evening became a memorial tribute.
So in honor of Women's Suffrage and in memory of Dona Spring—calling all women and their allies— Do get a copy of these two films then get out there and take a lead—Global Warming? Toxics in our fields, our food and urban environment? Corporate Corruption? Injustice in the workplace?
Go Girls! We can change it!
For information about “Courage in Life and Politics: the Dona Spring Story,” Send an email to: [email protected]
A Tribute to Animal Rights Activist Dona Spring
Women’s Equality Day 2008 Events
Mt. Laurel NJ
3rd Annual Women's California Equality Day Parade and Rally Sacramento CA
By Redwood Mary, Executive Director, Circle The Earth - Grassroots Women Taking Action for a Sustainable Future - A Project of the Agape Foundation
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Past Environmental Challenges and the Power of Women Columns: