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Radical Protests Propelled the Suffrage Movement. Here’s How a New Museum Captures That History

By Alli Hartley-Kong SMITHSONIANMAG.COM OCTOBER 26, 2020

The first of the “silent sentinel” protests occurred on January 10, 1917.

Twelve women, fighting for their right to vote, stood peacefully before the White House with picket signs all day, and every day after that, even as the nation entered the Great War in April. Though other suffragists voiced concern that the protest criticizing President Woodrow Wilson could stain the entire movement as unpatriotic, that did not deter the most resolute picketers.

On June 22, days after the protesters’ presence embarrassed the President in front of Russian dignitaries, the D.C. police arrested suffragist Lucy Burns and her compatriots. A veteran of militant suffragette campaigns in England, Burns had, along with fellow activist Alice Paul, been imprisoned in the United Kingdom, staging hunger strikes and enduring forced feedings in jail; they understood the benefits of being in the national news and staging flashy protests. As part of this new political strategy, they formed their own radical organization, the National Women’s Party, and geared their efforts around headline-grabbing demonstrations. FOR MORE


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