This August marks the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment to our constitution, when women were given the right to vote! So with every Weekly Woman this month we’re also going to call attention to amazing women in history who were kicking butts and giving all of us civil liberties.
To start things off let’s hear about a rather unknown suffragette, Inez Milholland born August 6th, 1866, so it’s fitting we’re talking about her on the anniversary of her birth!
Inez remains famous as the woman on the white horse of the suffragette movement. Seriously, she sat astride a white horse, named Grey Dawn, wearing all white with a flowing white cape, an old knights helmet with a star on top, and looks like Joan of Arc heading to battle. She was leading more than 8,000 protesters at a parade in Washington DC before Woodrow Wilson’s presidential inauguration in 1913.
She was born into a wealthy family, the eldest daughter of John and Jean Milholland, her father was a reporter and socialist unusually pushing for Women’s suffrage and a reformer with the National Association of rate Advancement of Colored People NAACP. She grew up in London but then went to Vassar College where she challenged rules banning the discussion of suffrage on the campus by holding meetings at a cemetery across from the school.
When she graduated she went to NYC and worked as a suffragette and advocated towards women’s labor rights. She was even arrested for picketing with laundry workers and and tailors during strikes in 1909, where she then used her wealth to pay bail for other strikers and organize fundraisers. She eventually went to NYU Law after being rejected by Yale and Harvard for being female. She was a pacifist protesting the US entering WW1 and became a war correspondent for the NY Tribune during the war. As a woman she fought to be allowed to visit the front lines of the war in Italy but her anti-war stance caused her to be thrown out of the county.
She became the face of the suffrage movement, leading parades and called by the New York Sun that “No suffrage parade was complete without Inez Milholland.” But she also became the martyr for the cause. She continued to tour and fight for the right to vote even though her physician told her she shouldn’t travel. She was giving a speech in LA in 1916 when she collapsed, was rushed to the hospital and died weeks later of anemia. Her death shocked the nation and the other suffragists. Her last words in her speech before she collapsed were “Mr. President, how long must women wait for liberty?”
Milholland fought for her beliefs, don’t her last words ring true to today? What are you fighting for right now? What are you protesting? What kind of liberty do you need in our society.