Friday, October 31, 2008

Why Women Should Vote

Voting is a sub-plot of my novel, Shades of Darkness, Shades of Grace. The Minnesota family depicted in the story, the Pierson's, understand that the ability to cast a vote of one's choosing is a privlege not to be taken lightly. If you are a woman contemplating voting November 4, here's a reminder of why that act is so important.

This is the story of our Grandmothers, and Great-grandmothers, as they lived only 90 years ago. It was not until 1920 that women were granted the right to go to the polls and vote. The women were innocent and defenseless. And by the end of the night, they were barely alive. Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden’s blessing went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of ‘obstructing sidewalk traffic.’

They beat Lucy Burn, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air. They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cellmate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack. Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.

Thus unfolded the ‘Night of Terror’ on Nov. 15, 1917, when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson’s White House for the right to vote.

For weeks, the women’s only water came from an open pail. Their food–all of it colorless slop–was infested with worms. When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press.

So, refresh my memory. Some women won’t vote this year because–why, exactly? We have carpool duties? We have to get to work? Our vote doesn’t matter? It’s raining?
Read Deloris Wright’s complete essay on the difficulties and brutality our foremothers faced in fighting for the right to vote, by clicking here.

This election day, remember how lucky we are and how far we have come. More so than any other election year history is being made and you can be a part of it by exercising your right to vote for the candidate of your choosing.
Labels: politics, voting, women's issues
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