Suffrage in 60 Seconds: Picketing the White House

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Hey look! I'm picketing the White House. Listen, next time you go to Washington DC, swing by the White House and you will see people picketing, people carrying signs and banners of protest or concern. Happens day and night.

Well picketing the White House was actually invented by the American suffragist Alice Paul. In response to the intransigence of Woodrow Wilson regarding giving women the vote Alice Paul formed what would call the "Silent Sentinels." This is January 1917. These women stood right outside Woodrow Wilson's front gate. He couldn't help but see them. It was right in his face. Carrying banners that said "Mr President What Will You Do For Woman Suffrage?" or "How Long, Mr President, Must Women Wait For Liberty?"

It was through the pressure of women like this, as well as others, exerted enough pressure on Woodrow Wilson where finally he goes before Congress, supports the 19th amendment.

Today, 100 years later, women have the vote.

But let's not kid ourselves. The struggle for women's equality continues and it's something we all need to be participating in.

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1 minute, 28 seconds

"Mr. President, How Long Must Women Wait for Liberty?" asked National Woman's Party picketers as they stood outside the White House gates in all kinds of weather. Ranger Mannie tells the story about the tactic of picketing in the fight for woman suffrage. What would you put on your banner?

Public protest was not the only way that suffragists fought for the vote. Women worked on state and national campaigns as well as internationally to be treated as equal citizens. Their demands for suffrage became even more urgent during World War I.

Part of a series of articles titled Suffrage in Sixty Seconds.

Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument, National Mall and Memorial Parks, Pennsylvania Avenue, The White House and President's Park

Last updated: September 1, 2020