March 3 is the 107th anniversary of the Woman Suffrage Procession in Washington, DC. Held on March 3, 1913, the day before President Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration, this march is recognized for several key firsts.
It was the first suffragist parade in the nation’s capital, and it was the first large, organized march on Washington for political purposes. The march catalyzed the longstanding suffrage movement, providing the national attention and momentum that led to the 19th Amendment being signed into law on August 26, 1920.
The Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI) will recognize the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment at its 2020 symposium, Philanthropy Plugged In: Creating community in the digital age, March 31-April 1 in Chicago.
Historian and author of Funding Feminism: Monied Women, Philanthropy, and the Women’s Movement, 1870-1967, Joan M. Johnson will compare women’s community-building efforts for suffrage in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to the ways women create community in the digital age. Long before the advent of Facebook and Twitter, women leveraged the resources at hand to achieve their goal of suffrage.
As with much of women’s philanthropy in America, the road to suffrage was complex, complicated, and challenging. Women had worked for suffrage mainly along racial lines. The March 3 parade included between 5,000-10,000 women; African American women had to advocate intently to be included in the procession.
Journalist Ida B. Wells-Barnett, who intended to march with her Illinois delegation, was asked by the white suffrage leaders not to do so. Rather than take a place at the back of the procession, Wells-Barnett waited until the Illinois delegation marched in front of her on Pennsylvania Avenue and then joined the group with two white allies. Twenty-five members of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority at Howard University, which had been founded a few weeks earlier at the university, marched in cap and gown.
The parade represented a radical new approach for the suffrage movement that was 65 years old in 1913. Alice Paul, head of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, argued that speeches and petitions were insufficient to achieve the goal. She was impatient with the state-by-state victories. She wanted women to stop begging and demand this right. Contemporary women’s philanthropy stands on the shoulders of trailblazing women who did not accept the status quo and found powerful new ways to achieve social change.
Several exhibits in Washington, D.C. commemorate the centennial of the passage of the 19th Amendment. The Library of Congress, National Archives, and the Belmont-Paul House tell this complicated story highlighting that Native American women generally received the right in 1924, Puerto Rican women received it in 1929, and African American women were denied voting rights in many Southern states until the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1965.
One hundred years after the passage of the 19th Amendment, women continue to challenge the status quo and seek innovative ways to achieve social change. WPI’s 2020 symposium explores this theme through the lens of technology, gender, and giving. Has technology made it easier or harder to democratize philanthropy? Has technology expanded the donor base for new donors, younger donors, more diverse donors?
Join us in Chicago for Philanthropy Plugged In, March 31-April 1, and find out how today’s leaders and social entrepreneurs are taking new approaches to solve problems in their communities and the world. We may have new tools like platforms, programs, and apps, but giving circles and collective giving networks, women’s foundations, and new nonprofit organizations continue to build community in the digital age.