Today millions of American’s will vote in their local elections. For me it was a matter of lacing up my tennis shoes and walking to my local voting place. That walk took me along the Occoquan River and reminded me that only a few miles up the river a 120 women were jailed for demanding the right for women to vote.
The Lorton Workhouse part of the DC Correctional Facility located 25 miles south of Washington DC was the site where many of the women arrested in Washington DC were jailed. History shows that the women including Lucy Burns, who had the longest sentence of any suffragists, were force-fed and the conditions under which they lived were deplorable.
As a result of the negative publicity from the imprisonment and inhumane treatment the Women Suffragists were subjected to, Woodrow Wilson called upon Congress to pass the 19th Amendment. After a failed first attempt, On May 21, 1918 the House of Representatives passed the Susan B. Anthony amendment 304 to 89, and on June 4, the Senate passed it 66 to 30. In August 1920, Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
In Northern Virginia there is a group dedicated to erect a national memorial, Turning Point Plaza, in the Occoquan Regional Park dedicated to the women who were jailed at the Lorton Workhouse across the road. A time capsule was buried in August on the 90th anniversary of the 19th amendment and land has been set-aside at the park for the memorial.
Thank you to the generation of women who took great risks with their lives to make it possible for me to vote. I plan on continuing to use what you fought for and remember that is a privilege that many other women around the world still do not have today.