Voices on the Wind Voices of Protest
Night of Terror – Days of Liberty by m.e.jackson 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 Liberty.