House adopts Krueger-Braneky resolution recognizing 100-year anniversary of ‘Silent Sentinels’ suffragists

HARRISBURG, Jan. 25 – Acknowledging their indispensable efforts fighting to secure the right of women to vote, state Rep. Leanne Krueger-Braneky, D-Delaware, today noted the House’s unanimous adoption of her resolution (H.R. 31) honoring the 100th anniversary of the “Silent Sentinels.”

“The peaceful protests of these 2,000-strong ‘Silent Sentinels,’ beginning in January 1917 and lasting more than two-and-a-half years, contributed significantly to the ratification of the 19th Amendment and women’s constitutional right to vote in 1920,” Krueger-Braneky said.

“It is more than fitting that the lawmakers of today take time to recognize the sacrifices of these brave women, those who followed them and those who even now continue to put their bodies on the protest line and speak up for women’s rights as a sign of our continuing commitment to full equality for women and other disenfranchised groups.”

According to Krueger-Braneky, in January 1917, Alice Paul and the National Woman’s Party, which had been campaigning for years for women’s right to vote, decided to change their tactics to renew public interest in their cause. The women became the first group ever to organize a picket line outside the White House with their goal to convince President Woodrow Wilson to support women’s suffrage. Using signs and banners – often with Wilson’s own words about freedom and liberty – the women peacefully instigated a shift in public opinion and political action that spurred movement on the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

“These women traveled from 30 states to take shifts on the picket lines, regardless of the weather or insults and scorn hurled at them,” Krueger-Braneky said. “Many were imprisoned for protesting, assembling and speaking at suffrage rallies. Many endured unsanitary conditions and brutal treatment.  

“But not even torture could stop these women,” she said. Despite their suffering, they maintained their nonviolent and steadfast protests and eventually shifted the hearts and minds of everyday Americans and those that had the power to submit the 19th Amendment for ratification and eventual adoption by the states.

“There’s a lot more work for us to do,” Krueger-Braneky said. “In Pennsylvania we have one of the largest state legislatures in the country, and yet women account for less than 19 percent of this General Assembly. We must continue to fight for a more fair representation at all levels of government.”