Voices on the Wind
Voices of Protest
Night of Terror – Days of Liberty
Protesters carrying banners walked in mass
down 57th Street to Union Station, late
blooming daffodils, straight and tall from
babes to grandmas, they marched and sang.
Suffragists and suffragettes.
Demanding equality, the right to vote, annual
marches morphed into demonstrations, then
radical behavior with protests before the White
House fence. Signs asked “how long must
women wait for liberty?”
Suffragettes dropped amendment petitions onto
the President’s yacht. Protests escalated, arrests
began for obstructing traffic. How much traffic
was there in 1917? They refused to pay the fines
and were ‘marched’ off to jail.
Protesters became a cadre of martyrs for the cause.
Jailed at Occoquan, suffering inhumane treatment,
they began a hunger strike. The guards force fed
them anyway. The Night of Terror had begun,
brutality, no medical treatment.
Lucy Burns, forced to stand with handcuffed hands
above her head to endure the night alone. One-by-one
prisoners down the line, crossed their hands above
their heads and stood - sentinels for liberty - then closed
their mouths, refusing to eat for three more days.
Guards tried to temp them with fried chicken ‘weren’t
women’s souls above the southern fare?’ But Lucy
sealed her lips, they pinned her down, pushed a tube
through her nose into her throat. Blood spewed upon her
breast, the pain beyond belief, but still she persevered.
Who could imagine a Great War would lead Congress to
concede? The 19th Amendment passed in nineteen-nineteen
first in the House, then in the Senate with two votes to spare.
Not spare change. By nineteen-twenty, Tennessee became
state twenty-six to ratify….
August twenty-sixth, the right to vote was won, seventy-two
years after Seneca Falls and fifty-two years of continuous
campaigns to remove the word ‘male’ from our country’s
Constitution. A Night of Terror had given birth to Days of