While it's hard to imagine today, less than 100 years ago women were taking to the streets and fighting for the right to vote. They marched down Pennsylvania Avenue, carrying banners and chanting slogans. And for their efforts, they were heckled, hit, arrested and eventually, force fed while in police custody during a hunger strike.
This mistreatment "was probably the best thing that could ever have happened to us," suffragette Alice Paul wrote to a supporter shortly after the march, "as it aroused a great deal of public indignation and sympathy."
It is stories like this -- the very real struggle for equal rights in America -- that we must never forget. Fortunately for us, these stories about Alice Paul, the National Woman's Party and the women's suffrage movement are all housed in what has just been named our newest national park site.
Thanks to this important designation today by President Obama, the Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument will be permanently protected, along with its extensive collection of documents and historic items showcasing the efforts to secure the right to vote for women.
Named for suffrage leaders Alice Paul and Alva Belmont, the home, just steps from the U.S. Capitol has served as the headquarters for the National Woman's Party since 1929. It was here that Paul and others drafted updated Equal Rights Amendment text, some of it later used in the Civil Rights Act which prevented discrimination on the basis of gender.
It is only fitting that this national park designation came on Equal Pay Day. It is a reminder to us all that the struggle for equality continues. It is so crucial that we teach young people about the women who fought for them nearly a century ago--so they can carry the torch and continue to fight for equal rights for those who will come long after them. Personally, I look forward to visiting this national park site with my own granddaughter one day.
The Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument is an important national park site. These stories deserve to be told for generations to come--and by the best story tellers in America: our national park rangers.