The New Jersey State AFL-CIO celebrates Women’s History Month 2022 by remembering the legendary suffragette, feminist, and Jersey girl, Alice Paul.
The labor movement of today was influenced in no small part by visionaries like Alice Paul, a suffragette who fought not just for women’s right to vote, but for equality between the sexes.
Born in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, in 1885, Alice Paul was instilled with a strong sense of social justice by her Quaker upbringing. As a child, she often attended meetings of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), and remained politically active throughout her college and early adulthood, advocating for expanding voting rights for women.
Alice Paul wanted to use more aggressive campaign tactics, like protesting the president during World War I, to draw attention to the cause of women’s suffrage. This led Alice Paul and her supporters to break off from the NAWSA to form the National Woman’s Party (NWP). The NWP were criticized, attacked by opponents, and arrested.
But despite all the negative pressure, they persisted, using hunger strikes in jail and other measures to move public opinion in favor of the suffragettes. In 1920, Alice Paul and the suffragettes’ campaign resulted in the successful ratification of the 19th amendment to the constitution, granting women the right to vote.
But Alice Paul was not finished, and began to build support for the Equal Rights Amendment, later called the Alice Paul Amendment, which would grant legal equality to men and women.
The New Jersey State AFL-CIO remembers Alice Paul for setting the stage for generations of women to engage in politics, push for better wages, benefits, and workplace protections, and inspiring the progressive labor leaders of today.
Together, we can ensure New Jersey’s labor movement continues to be a leader for fairness, equality, and solidarity.