In the streets of Chicago, 1968 I was directed by the methods and success of Gandhi. I had read about him for years and presumed that his theories were inspiring the American Civil Rights Movement. I grew up in devotion to the left wing of the Catholic Church, the hope of Vatican II and John XXIII. My feminism was not really ignited yet. In fact, I did not notice on my 15th birthday, August 28, 1963, that no woman spoke from the podium at the Lincoln Memorial when Dr King told us of his dream.
Many years later I heard some vague story about a woman who had led a hunger strike in jail campaigning for women’s suffrage. At the time all I knew was Seneca, Stanton and Anthony. Then through no direct line of influence, I found myself fasting for the Equal Rights Amendment and again I heard this woman’s name, Alice Paul. She was the principle and most acknowledged author of the legislature. My interested was piqued.
Thirty-four years later, I have culled the universe for any and all information about and by Miss Paul. I have read every book available, interviewed many people who both knew and worked for her. I have pestered a historian friend for hundreds of articles. I have learned to judge a book by its footnotes and to read in complete quiet. I have been told I know more about Miss Paul than anyone. I know her virtues, her many faults and, with humility, find me more like her with each revelation. I have been given the honorific of Independent Scholar.
Over the last few years one glaring truth has pierced my feminist heart. Would it be different if I had known the first to practice Nonviolent Direct Action was a feminist woman? Would it have different to know that the first to organize a march on the White House was a woman? Why did my shelves have dozens of books on Gandhi’s theories and methods with application to the American Social Justice Movement and ZERO on Alice Paul’s? Why had I read Indian Opinion and Harijan but not the Suffragist? Why didn’t I know that both Miss Paul and M.K. Gandhi had been at suffrage rallies, spoken with Mrs Pankhurst and both left with objections to the introduction of violence.
I am devoted, I am dedicated to introduce Americans to their very own founder of Non Violent Direct Action, Miss Alice Paul. I believe that knowing about Alice, her methods and her lifelong activism will inspire and light the way. I base this on my own 50 years in activism. I see how she never gave up. She rested and moved with the ebb and flow of equality. She did not party with the signing of the Nineteenth Amendment. She went on to earn three law degrees to prepare for the campaign for constitutional equality. The vote was just one tile in the mosaic of equality. On her 92nd birthday, she spent her happy birthday phone call with First Lady Betty Ford promoting the ERA.
We are left with a spectacular film by Sir Richard Attenborough on the life of Gandhi in which meticulous care was given to truth. Entire scenes were recreated, dialog was taken from real life. We need accessible accurate media to learned about, celebrate and fulfill the plans of Miss Alice Paul. We will be better people to end the national practice of letting women age into obscurity and dismissing their legacy. Her work of constitutional equality is now our work.
I hope you will trust me with creating a national, culturally illumined, campaign to build awareness of the infinite relevance of militant activist, Alice Paul. There is a call for seed money on Kickstarter. (click here) Your donation will be your tile in this particular mosaic for equality. The goal is $9,200 which is $100 for each year of her life. This amount is the foundation. Once launched we will be creating both self-sustaining funding and sponsorship. Thank you for joining this effort. You can read about the objectives, vision and mission here.