A picture of Representative Gerald E. Connolly
Gerald C.
Democrat VA 11

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  • Recognizing the Turning Point Memorial Association

    by Representative Gerald E. Connolly

    Posted on 2013-02-28

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    CONNOLLY of virginia in the house of representatives Thursday, February 28, 2013 Mr. CONNOLLY. Mr. Speaker, as the nation's capital hosts a weekend celebration of women's suffrage on March 2 and 3, I want to share with my colleagues a little-known, national landmark in my--the Turning Point Memorial at the former Occoquan Workhouse, in Lorton.

    From 1917 to 1919, more than 200 women from 26 states were arrested for ``obstructing traffic'' and ``holding a meeting on public grounds.'' Around 70 of those women, suffragists who were called ``Silent Sentinels,'' were imprisoned for picketing with signs and banners on the White House sidewalk demanding their right to vote. Police hauled them to the then Occoquan Workhouse, later called the Lorton Prison, in Fairfax County, where they were jailed.

    Their incarceration was one of the most significant but least known events of the women's suffrage movement and a true turning point in the ultimately successful struggle. The gutsy women--labeled by some as ``unpatriotic'' -- held firm to their goals. Choosing jail over paying a $25 fine, one protested, ``Not a dollar of your fine shall we pay. To pay a fine would be an admission of guilt. We are innocent!'' Winning the right to vote took 72 years when Tennessee ratified the 19th Amendment in 1920, the largest extension of democratic rights in the nation's history. The suffragists' nonviolent actions pioneered civil rights tactics later used in other civic movements and their refusal to back down became a model for activists.

    To recognize their struggle, the all-volunteer Turning Point Suffragist Memorial Association is building the memorial in the shadow of the nation's capital in Fairfax County. It will feature a waterfall and 19 stations (for the 19th Amendment) along a winding garden path to relate the history of the movement and the story of empowerment and perseverance. More information can be found online at www.suffragistmemorial.org.

    Mr. Speaker, I ask my colleagues to join me in commending the members and supporters of the Association and wishing them continued success with the memorial.


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