The Alice Paul Memorial March, Washington, D.C. 1977Alice Paul Button

Browse photos of the Alice Paul Memorial March.

On August 26, 1977 four thousand people marched up Pennsylvania Avenue in memory of Alice Paul, who had died on July 9. Paul was the leader of the militant wing of the U.S. Suffrage movement, the author and chief promoter of the Equal Rights Amendment, and an activist who encouraged the spread of feminist ideas all over the world.
Born on January 11, 1885 in New Jersey, Paul went to England in 1906 to do settlement work soon after graduating from Swarthmore College. There she became involved in the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) -- the British Suffrage militants -- from whom she learned how to gain publicity for the cause through mass marches, demonstrations, drastic actions and arrests. After returning to the States to complete her Ph.D. in Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania, she persuaded the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) to revive its Congressional Committee in order to lobby for a federal amendment.
On March 3, 1913, Paul organized a Suffrage parade of 8,000 women to march up Pennsylvania Avenue. Inez Milholland rode at the front on a white horse. As it was the eve of the inauguration of the new President, Woodrow Wilson, Washington was full of visitors. Jeering bystanders spat on and assaulted the marchers and blocked their way. The resulting publicity focused the country's attention on Woman Suffrage.
A month later, Paul founded the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage with her colleague Lucy Burns. This became her base of operations after NAWSA removed her from its Committee. The women who joined the CU reflected a generational split in the Suffrage movement. The younger women were more likely to be college educated, to want jobs and careers, and to find militant action attractive than the older war horses of NAWSA.
In June of 1916 they founded the National Woman's Party (NWP), choosing Anne Martin of Nevada to head it. Martin was another young woman who had served an apprenticeship with the British suffrage movement. The Congressional Union soon merged with the NWP. While Alice Paul was not always the NWP's official leader, she was always its guiding light.
In Honor of Alice Paul button The NWP adopted the WSPU strategy of opposing the party in power to punish it for not passing a federal suffrage amendment. Since the Democrats controlled the federal government at that time, the NWP systematically campaigned against all Democrats running for office in the twelve states where women could vote for President, regardless of their personal position on Woman Suffrage. In June 1920, with one state left to ratify the 19th Amendment, the NWP picketed the Republican convention and threatened to follow that party on the campaign trail with pickets, hecklers and embarrassing questions.
The Suffrage amendment was officially declared part of the US Constitution on August 26, 1920. Fifty years later, the emerging women's liberation movement commenced an annual celebration of that day as Suffrage Day. The 1977 march in Washington, D.C. was one of many feminist events held on August 26.
Six months after the 19th Amendment was ratified, the NWP was refounded and dedicated to the elimination of women's legal disabilities. Initially it drafted model bills for states to pass. The NWP soon decided that this strategy was too slow and uncertain. Paul oversaw the preparation of another Constitutional amendment, which was announced at a major conference held in Seneca Falls on July 21, 1923. Later that fall the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was officially introduced into Congress by Rep. Daniel R. Anthony (R. KS), nephew of Susan B., and the Senate Republican Whip, Charles Curtis (R. KS), both of whom had been Suffrage supporters.
Pursuit of the ERA became Alice Paul's life work, but it was not all that she did. She went to law school, and was awarded the LL.B. degree in 1922 and a doctorate in law in 1928. During the 1920s and the 1930s she often lived abroad while working for women's equality all over the world. In 1938 she founded the World Woman's Party, which successfully lobbied for the inclusion of equal rights for women in the United Nations Charter in 1945. Under her leadership, the NWP lobbied for a prohibition of sex discrimination in any bill or Executive Order prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, religion or national origin. Its one success was the addition of "sex" to Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibited discrimination in employment.
In 1972 Congress passed the ERA and sent it to the states for ratification. However, only 35 of the necessary 38 states ratified it by the deadline. Paul died during the campaign for ratification, which was led largely by the National Organization for Women (NOW).
Soon thereafter Elizabeth Chittick, the current NWP President, decided that the 1977 celebration of Suffrage Day should honor the NWP founder. She asked NOW and other women's organization to join the NWP in a march up Pennsylvania Avenue. The NWP also invited several original suffragists to march with them. One of them, Hazel Hunkins Hallinan, came from London, England at the age of 87 to symbolically link the major movements in Alice Paul's life. She marched in the front line; several others rode on an antique trolley further back.
Alice Paul Lives Button To replicate the drama and spectacle of the Suffrage parades, the NWP asked everyone to wear traditional white. A young woman with horse was found to replicate Inez Milholland's role, but the horse was a chestnut. Many people also wore sashes of purple, white and gold; colors chosen by the NWP to symbolize Woman Suffrage.The NPW explained that purple stood for the "Royal glory of Womanhood"; white for "Purity in the home and in Politics"; and gold for the "Crown of Victory". Some people carried original Suffrage banners; some carried new ones made for this march which identified their organizations and/or support for the ERA.
However, the times had clearly changed. The 1913 parade was frequently disrupted by unruly opponents until it ended with a mass meeting in the Hall of the Daughters of the American Revolution. This march passed freely up the street to a rally in Lafayette Square. In 1913 the police had refused to protect the marchers from the crowd. In 1977, the police provided a motorcycle escort. The purpose of the 1913 march was to make President Wilson pay attention to Woman Suffrage. Personally opposed, he had said nothing about it in the 1912 campaign even though other candidates and their supporters spoke out on it. President Jimmy Carter was already on record in support of the ERA. The morning of the march, he met with leaders of 80 women's groups where he passed out pens used to sign a proclamation designating August 26 as Women's Equality Day.
Wanting more than Carter's verbal support for the ERA, the women's groups drew up a Petition to President Carter, which was carried throughout the march. At the rally, it was presented to Midge Costanza, Carter's special assistant for women's affairs, who had marched in the front line of the march. It called on Carter "to exert the full political and moral leadership of his office to help ratify the Equal Rights Amendment." Costanza promised to deliver the message.

Photos of the 1977 Alice Paul Memorial March by Jo Freeman

Please click on thumbnails to view the complete image

ERA banner

The wording of the Equal Rights Amendment, as passed by Congress in 1972

Bella Abzug, Elizabeth Chittick, Hazel Hunkins Hallinan and Midge Costanza

Leading the march, from L to R: Bella Abzug, Elizabeth Chittick, Hazel Hunkins Hallinan, Midge Costanza

National Women's Party banner   Hazel Hunkins Hallinin


Mary Eastwood, Secretary of the NWP, and a founder of NOW carries an original suffrage banner



Hazel Hunkins Hallinan grew up in Montana where she became state NWP chairman after it was founded in 1916. She later picketed the White House demanding Suffrage, for which she was arrested many times.

Pennsylvania Ave march route   Alice Paul banner


The Capitol can be seen in the background as marchers walk up Pennsylvania Avenue.



Commemorating Alice Paul



Some of the many banners carried in the March

WILPF banner
League of Women Voters banner
March banner   Mormons for ERA banner

AAUW banner   National Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs banner

Presenting the Petition to President Carter

Hazel Hunkins Hallinan and Elizabeth Chittick.   Ellie Smeal and Midge Costanza.

Hazel Hunkins Hallinan and Elizabeth Chittick.



NOW President Ellie Smeal and White House advisor Midge Costanza.



Mary Anne Krupsak and former New York Congresswoman Bella Abzug   Speaker at rally dresses as suffragist

New York Lt. Governor Mary Anne Krupsak and former New York Congresswoman Bella Abzug, are among the many congregating on the Mall prior to the march.


A participant dresses as a suffragist to symbolically link the two movements.

ERA supporters

Enthusiastic support for the ERA.

ERA opponants

Not everyone agreed, but unlike 1913,
the few opponents at this march were restrained.


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