Sunday in D.C.: Follow the Footsteps of the 1913 Suffragists!

Looking for an excuse to visit Washington, D.C. this weekend? National sorority Delta Sigma Theta just gave you one.

One hundred years ago, thousands of women marched across Washington, D.C., demanding the right to vote. With the help of a few organizations, the city plans to spend the next three days remembering this herstory.

Then on Sunday, March 3, the Deltas will lead the Suffrage Centennial Celebration’s grand finale—a commemorative parade down Pennsylvania Avenue.

Created by a group of Howard University women in 1913, the Deltas’ first public event was the historic women’s suffrage parade. A century later, a new generation is literally following in their footsteps.

Partnering institutions and organizations such as the National Women’s History Museum, the Sewall-Belmont House & Museum and are hosting activities all weekend to remind everyone that women’s right to vote was not easily won. (It only took 70 years.)

To garner attention for their cause, suffragists marched from the Capitol to the Treasury Building the day before Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration. Anyone familiar with the movie Iron-Jawed Angels knows it did not end well. As the League of Women Voters explained:

Throughout the three-hour parade down Pennsylvania Avenue, marchers faced strong opposition from anti-suffragists among the crowds. Insults and lit cigarette butts were hurled at them and marchers were tripped, groped and beaten. The violence was so intense that Army troops were called in to restore order, and 100 marchers were hospitalized.

Their activism was dangerous yet purposeful. The National History Museum described the suffragists’ path as strategic, “underscoring the national importance of their cause and women’s identity as American citizens.” Seven years later, women finally secured the vote with the 19th amendment.

Kicking off Women’s History Month 2013, the parade begins at 9 a.m. and participants are encouraged to wear white. Sponsors are meeting near the Capitol around 8:30 and providing sashes. The three mile re-enactment will end with a rally at the Washington Monument. Believe me, you don’t want miss this.

Celebrating its own anniversary, Delta Sigma Theta’s centennial website remembers “100 years of fighting for voter rights” and “100 years of fighting for women’s and civil rights.” No one is better suited to lead determined women through the nation’s capital once again. Why not join them?

Photos courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


Kate Noftsinger is currently an intern for Ms. Magazine, making the move from the Heartland to LA. She is a Journalism major and a Women’s Studies minor at Bowling Green State University where she writes a weekly column for the BG News. She’s a Pisces. And a Feminist.