Mary Walton's Alice Paul lecture & an enlightening surprise from the Deltas
TO: Carol Cohen, President, A
AUW of New Jersey
FROM: Janice Harris Jackson,
AAUW NJ Member, Garden State (Virtual) Branch
SUBJECT: Lecture by Author, Mary Walton,
Crusade: Alice Paul and the Battle for the Ballot
Sincerest thanks for inviting AAUW-NJ Members to attend the
lecture by author Mary Walton, on her biography A Woman's Crusade: Alice Paul and the Battle for the Ballot,
Scotch Plains Library on September 8, 2016.
I attended and the lecture was informative and inspiring with a surprise that I hope you will share with our membership. Also, the Director and her staff at the Scotch Plains Library were extraordinarily welcoming, in addition to being enthusiastic and very well informed about women's advocacy issues
Mary Walton announced to her audience that the lecture would have a sort of coda during which the African American women in Delta Sigma Theta Sorority would tell their side of the story about New Jersey born suffragette, Alice
Paul, and the
1913 Woman Suffrage Procession
or Parade in Washington, D.C. the day before President Wilson's inauguration
Rev. Deborah Stapleton, Associate Pastor at First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens and a Delta Soror, gave an eloquent presentation about her Sorority, which is the
largest African-American Greek-lettered organization.
Rev. Stapleton described how the founding
Deltas with their advisor, long-time suffragist, Mary Church Terrell, marched in the procession despite the fact that Alice Paul did not want African American women to participate. In 1913, Washington was a segregated Southern town. On March 3, 1913, the Founding Deltas from Howard University were forced to march at the very end of the procession. When violence erupted, the 22 Founders of Delta Sigma Theta were treated badly by both the bigoted suffragettes and the antagonized men in the crowd of 250, 000 that had gathered for the procession. Rev. Stapleton went on to genuinely connect with many audience members as she shared the knowledge that Delta Sigma Theta is the sorority of such women as Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, Congresswoman Barbara Jordan, Dorothy Irene Height, Hon. Patricia Roberts Harris, Hon. Alexis Herman, Congresswoman Marcia Fudge, Attorney General Loretta Lynch and many other famous and distinguished American women.
I commend Mary Walton for the way she structured and encouraged the telling of this difficult story. Handling this controversy in another way may have resulted in many women departing from the library quickly and engulfed in their own uncomfortable silences. Instead, the all-American spirit of "telling it like it is" took over and the women were so engaged with each other that they were still talking when the library closed. Many of the discussions continued into the parking lot and, hopefully, into the future. Indeed, we are stronger together!
This story about the earliest political action of the 22 Delta Founders has tremendous significance for AAUW because Mary Church Terrell, revered advisor to these young women, is also the African American woman who integrated AAUW in 1949 with the courageous support of then AAUW National President, Dr. Althea Kratz Hottel, also a pioneering woman in Pennsylvania higher education.
All in all, it was an exciting evening with abundant learning for many women's rights advocates. Thank you for making me aware of this event.
Janice Harris Jackson
AAUW NJ; NANBPWC, Inc.; Newark and New Brunswick NAACP Branches
Cc. Selected Fellow Women's Rights Advocates
The Washington Post Op/Ed
, March 1, 2013,
"The day the Deltas marched into history"
By Mary Walton the author of
A Woman's Crusade: Alice Paul and the Battle for the Ballot
"Opening Membership and Minds" (It begins with Mary Church Terrell), February 28, 2014, By Susan Gould, AAUW's archivist and records manager
"A One-Woman Crusade for Justice" (The Story of Dr. Althea Kratz Hottel), March 21, 2014,By Susan Gould, AAUW's archivist and records manager