TRENTON – To honor prominent women’s rights advocate Alice Paul and her integral role in the women’s suffrage movement, a measure sponsored by Assemblywomen Carol Murphy (D-Burlington), Gabriela Mosquera (D-Camden, Gloucester) and Nancy Pinkin (D-Middlesex) to designate Jan. 11 of each year as “Alice Paul Day” in New Jersey was recently signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy.
According to a release, “Alice Paul dedicated her life to advocating for the rights of future generations of women,” stated Murphy. “She saw injustice in the world and took action to correct it. We are closer to achieving equal rights for all because of the work of Alice Paul.”
Born in Mount Laurel, Burlington County – also Murphy’s hometown – Paul was a relentless advocate for the women’s suffrage movement during the 1910s. She founded the National Women’s Party with the goal of establishing a national suffrage amendment to give women the right to vote. While protesting outside of the White House, Paul and other suffragists were arrested and imprisoned.
She was beaten and forced to live in cold, unsanitary, rat-infested conditions. When word of her mistreatment spread, the public demanded that she and the other imprisoned suffragists be released.
The incident raised awareness and support for the women’s suffrage movement, eventually leading to the ratification of the 19th amendment giving women the right to vote.
“It’s because of leaders like Alice Paul that women across the country are able to cast their ballots on Election Day,” stated Mosquera. “Women today have a voice because Alice Paul so fiercely raised her own. It’s so important that we continue to honor her legacy, and never forget the gifts she gave to all women.”
After the 19th amendment was passed, Paul didn’t stop there. She went on to earn three law degrees and fought for women’s rights across the globe.
She led a coalition that was successful in adding a sexual discrimination clause to Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. She pushed to advance the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), which would guarantee equal rights under the law regardless of sex. In 1943, the ERA was rewritten and dubbed the “Alice Paul Amendment.”
Though the amendment was never ratified – it fell short of support by three states – advocates continue to fight for its passage to this day.
Paul continued to champion women’s rights until she died in 1977 in Moorestown, Burlington County.
“At her core, Alice Paul truly believed all people were equal, and she never stopped working to make sure all people were treated equally under the law and in our culture,” said Pinkin. “Her tireless advocacy deserves to be recognized and remembered. I look forward to paying her tribute on ‘Alice Paul Day’ for years to come.”
The measure passed the Assembly in December, 79-0, and the Senate in May, 38-0.