JANUARY 11, 1885–JULY 9, 1977
Alice Paul was born in Moorestown, New Jersey, in 1885. She was a radical women’s rights activist. A social worker by training, she spent time working with the women’s suffrage movement in England before returning to the United States. Paul was recognized for the extreme tactics of her suffragist activism. During Woodrow Wilson’s presidential inauguration, she organized a huge suffrage parade through the streets of Washington D.C. in front of Wilson. Afraid her dramatic approach would reflect poorly on them, the National American Woman Suffrage Association criticized Paul. In response, Paul founded the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage (later the National Woman’s Party), a group more radical than NAWSA. In 1917, Paul picketed the White House and was arrested and sent to jail for protesting. While in jail she went on a hunger strike.
After the 19th Amendment was passed, Paul wrote the Equal Rights Amendment, meant to ensure total legal equality regardless of a person’s sex. Though it passed both houses in Congress by 1972, the ERA has not been ratified by enough states for it to become part of the US Constitution. Paul also ensured that sex was added as a protected category in the 1964 Civil Rights Act, but was criticized for her refusal to openly support black women’s voting rights. She died in 1977 at age 92.
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