Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Faith Perspectives: Walking the Golden Lane

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Faith Perspectives: Walking the Golden Lane

Article excerpt

One hundred years ago, thousands of women took to the sweltering streets of downtown St. Louis to demand the right to vote.

Billed as a "Walkless-Talkless Parade," the protest saw women line both sides of the road leading to the St. Louis Coliseum wearing white dresses, golden sashes saying "Votes for Women," and holding golden parasols.

The intent was to create a "golden lane" through which delegates to that year's Democratic National Convention would have to walk: The women would bear silent witness to the right of women to vote, while encouraging the inclusion of women's suffrage as a plank in the Democratic Party platform.

An ad for the action makes the intentions of the organizers clear:

"Help us make this demonstration so big and beautiful that Missouri will be proud of its women and that the delegates to the convention can not fail to feel the force of the plea for VOTES FOR WOMEN."

The protest drew national attention, and the women were successful: the twentieth declaration of the 1916 Democratic Party Platform reads: "We recommend the extension of the franchise to the women of the country by the States upon the same terms as to men."

At a time when protesters are again lining the streets of St. Louis, the work of these suffragists is a powerful reminder of the potential for protest to create change.

It is difficult, perhaps, for some to imagine a world in which women could not vote. It seems a ridiculous idea to me. Yet not too long ago protesters for women's suffrage were treated similarly to how too many Black Lives Matter protesters are treated today: with aggression and even violence from the public and the police.

In 1913, just three years before the Golden Lane protest, a large women's suffrage parade in Washington, D.C., was attacked by a mob as police stood idly by (or, worse, joined in with the attack).

Women endured jail time, participated in hunger strikes, and went to prison in their pursuit of the vote, all while being pilloried and viciously caricatured in the popular press.

Look now at the political cartoons attacking woman suffragists, and startling parallels between their treatment and the treatment of activists today emerge.

Suffragists are caricatured as jobless, furious, irresponsible, and dangerous to the social order just as Black Lives Matter activists are now. …

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