(TRENTON) – A measure sponsored by Assembly Democrats Herb Conaway, Jr., M.D., Troy Singleton and Elizabeth Muoio petitioning Congress to pass legislation that would posthumously award New Jersey native and women’s rights icon Alice Paul a Congressional Gold Medal for her crucial role in the women’s suffrage movement was approved Thursday by the Assembly.
Senator Robert Menendez introduced S.1980 to posthumously award a Congressional Gold Medal to Alice Paul in recognition of her role in the women’s suffrage movement, and in advancing equal rights for women. A Congressional Gold Medal is an award bestowed by Congress to persons “who have performed an achievement that has an impact on American history and culture that is likely to be recognized as a major achievement in the recipient’s field long after the achievement.”
The resolution (ACR-152) respectfully asks Congress to pass the measure.
“Alice Paul was a women’s rights activist, suffragist, and principal leader of the early 1900’s campaign for the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Without her and other fearless women who led the fight in the women’s suffrage movement, I can only imagine how long it would have been before the basic rights of women were recognized and respected,” said Conaway. “Given her tremendous contributions, it would be more than fitting to honor her with a Congressional Gold Medal. I urge Congress to pass the bill that would make this a reality.”
“Alice Paul was a driving force behind the movement toward equality for women, inspiring generations of women to make their voices heard and fight for justice,” said Singleton. “She continues to be a wonderful example to young people, especially young girls who must often fight against societal expectations – that it is okay to challenge injustice and fight for what you believe in. I sincerely hope Congress will give Alice Paul this honor, which she has earned and rightfully deserves.”
“The impact that Alice Paul had on American history and the difference she made for women in this country makes her more than worthy of this recognition,” said Muoio (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “Reflecting on her life and her contributions to the movement, it is sobering to see how much work there is still left to do. Her courage is remarkable and serves as a wonderful example for the new generation of activists fighting to ensure the equal and civil rights of all Americans are protected.”
Paul was born on January 11, 1885, in Moorestown, New Jersey, and was raised in a Quaker household. She graduated from Swarthmore College in 1905, pursued graduate studies England until 1909, earned a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1912, received a law degree in 1922, and wrote the first version of the Equal Rights Amendment that same year.
While in England, Paul joined the women’s suffrage movement and was arrested several times, serving jail time and participating in a hunger strike. Paul became involved in the United States women’s suffrage movement upon returning in 1910. She worked two years with the National American Woman Suffrage Association, cofounded the Congressional Union seeking a federal constitutional amendment for woman suffrage, and, in 1916, formed the National Woman’s party.
Paul led pickets at the White House and before Congress and was again arrested and imprisoned. She also engaged in hunger strikes and endured forced feedings in support of the cause.
Paul was instrumental in the passage and ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920, which prohibited denying any citizen the right to vote on the basis of sex. Paul penned the Equal Rights Amendment in 1923–introduced in every Congressional term between 1923 and 1972–and continued to advocate on behalf of women until her death on July 9, 1977.
The bill was approved 71-0-0 and now awaits further consideration by the Senate.