Making Democracy Work

Making Democracy Work

The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization encouraging informed and active participation in government. It influences public policy through education and advocacy.

Turning Point Suffragist Memorial

Message from Elisabeth MacNamara, LWVUS President:

The League of Women Voters of the United States (LWVUS) has agreed to become a partner with the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial Association (TPSMA) in creating a memorial that celebrates the fight for women's suffrage and its relevance today. This decision is particularly timely in light of the upcoming 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 2020.

TPSMA has been working to ensure that the proud history of the successful struggle for women's voting rights will be permanently commemorated at the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial, located on two acres within the Occoquan Regional Park in northern Virginia. This location was selected because it is in close proximity to the former location of the Occoquan Workhouse, where dozens of suffragists were incarcerated in 1917 for picketing the White House. The inhumane treatment of those brave women became public knowledge and in turn became one of the significant turning points in the fight for the 19th Amendment. Of course the history of the fight for women's suffrage is much longer and broader, with many turning points less celebrated but equally significant. Many critical milestones will be commemorated on the 19 informative stations that will be installed throughout the park. Since suffragist leaders, like our founder Carrie Chapman Catt, built no monuments to themselves, this memorial will be one of the very few physical reminders of the importance of their movement.

The LWVUS Board has agreed to become a partner and has appointed Executive Director and Arlington, Virginia League member Nancy Tate to represent the League on the TPSMA Board. In addition, the LWVUS Board voted unanimously to make a $1,000 contribution to the memorial. That contribution will ensure that the LWVUS name will be included on the Donor Wall at the park. Although the park is being built and maintained by the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority (now known as NOVA Parks), the funds for the memorial itself must be raised privately. TPSMA's initial goal is $1 million by November 30, 2015 and they are reaching out to many individuals, groups, and corporate donors.

We encourage all Leagues and individuals to consider making their own donations. Interested Leagues can learn more by visiting the Turning Point website http://www.suffragistmemorial.org. Donations can be made through the website or by mail to TPSMA, 5400 Ox Road, Fairfax Station, VA 22039. Gifts of $1,000 or more will be recognized on the Donor Wall, and three state Leagues (Colorado, Tennessee, and Virginia) have already contributed at that level. TPSMA is requesting that donations be made by October 15, 2015, to enable them to stay on schedule for building the first phase of the memorial.

We believe that this partnership is about more than building a memorial to the suffragists, significant though that is. The goal is to create a place and the momentum to educate and inspire present and future generations to continue the fight for equal rights. The design already calls for significant efforts since 1920 to be highlighted. Our involvement in the memorial can only strengthen the story.

Whether or not you choose to support the memorial, please plan to be part of efforts over the next five years to celebrate both the 100th anniversary of women's suffrage and 100 years of continuous League efforts in Making Democracy Work. We have a wonderful opportunity to showcase not only our proud history but also the many contributions that Leagues across the country are making today + and every day.