Editor’s Note: This blog was written and submitted by Vision 2020 Tennessee Delegate Patricia Pierce.
On March 3, 1913, ten thousand women (as reported by suffragists but only five thousand according to the media) marched in Washington D.C. down Pennsylvania Avenue as one of the first public political events “demanding” the right to vote. Suffragist leader, Alice Paul organized the parade. It started as a peaceful march but turned violent as the hostile crowds attacked the women. Although the media reported it as a failure, the suffragists believed it was a turning point in the suffrage movement because it brought the issue to the forefront of national discussion. At the Newseum display of newspapers that covered the original parade, there was a report that women of color were discouraged from marching but a few brave Black women including Ida B. Wells and the founding members of Delta Sigma Theta, currently the largest African-American Greek-lettered sorority in the world, participated in the parade. The sorority was founded in January 13, 1913 by twenty-two women from Howard University, and one of their first actions was to participate in the 1913 Suffrage Parade. At yesterday’s 100th Anniversary of the 1913 Parade, thousands of Black women lead the parade marching to their theme, “Tracing the Footsteps of our Founders.” They claimed the streets of Washington D.C. It was a site to behold! Kate Campbell Stevenson, Stephanie Stilson, Carmen Delgado Votaw, and I were there representing Vision 2020 in this Centennial Parade. We marched along the original route down Pennsylvania Avenue wearing our purple sashes distributed by the Women’s History Project and Stepanie proudly carried the Vision 2020 sign. It was a great experience being part of this amazing group of women reenacting this important day in women’s history. We can never forget that the suffragists history is our history! The right to vote was a hard fought battle, and we should celebrate their courage every time there is an election by casting our vote.