1913 Women's Suffrage Parade
Backstory and Context
American suffragists Alice Paul and Lucy Burns spearheaded a drive to adopt a national strategy for women's suffrage in the National American Woman Suffrage Association. Both women recognized that the women from the six states that had full suffrage at the time comprised a powerful voting bloc. They submitted a proposal to Anna Howard Shaw and the NAWSA leadership at their annual convention in 1912. The leadership of NAWA believed it best to devote their full attention to their grassroots community-by-community and state-by-state strategy. As a result, they rejected the idea of holding a campaign that might alienate male allies, especially those within Congress and the President's administration. Alice Paul and Burns appealed to prominent reformer Jane Addams, who interceded on their behalf.
The women eventually persuaded leaders within the NAWSA to endorse their plan for an immense pro-suffrage parade in Washington, D.C. to coincide with newly elected President Woodrow Wilson's inauguration. Paul and Burns were appointed chair and vice-chair of NAWSA's Congressional Committee ant they recruited Crystal Eastman, Mary Ritter Beard, and Dora Kelley Lewis to the Committee and were forced to organize volunteers, plan, and raise funds for the parade with little help from the organization.Affiliates of NAWSA from various states organized contingents to march and activities leading up to the march, such as suffrage hikes.
African-American women were asked to march separately at the end of the march, because white suffragists were concerned about losing the support of southern voters. However, Ida B. Wells, founder of the Alpha Suffrage Club of Chicago, joined the Illinois delegation in the middle of the march, an action that was controversial not only because she placed herself among white marchers, but because she marched separately from other black women.