Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support employees attended a virtual visit with “Dora Lewis,” Philadelphia suffragist for the National Woman’s Party during a Women’s Equality Day event August 11.
Lewis, portrayed by Carol Spacht, from the American Historical Theatre, shared the journey of suffragist fighting for women’s right to vote.
The National Woman’s Party, led by Alice Paul, demanded the ratification of the U.S. Constitution’s 19th Amendment versus states individually granting women the right to vote.
"Voting it not a privilege: it is the right of every citizen,” Spacht said as Lewis. “Alice Paul claims the suffrage movement is a sort of mosaic. Each of us puts in one little stone and then you get a great mosaic at the end. And that’s who I am: I am one little stone in the crooked path of suffrage.”
Spacht described Lewis as a “salient sentinel” for suffrage, serving four prison sentences, including being arrested for picketing at the White House along with 31 other suffragists November 14, 1917.
“We did not expect the brutal treatment we would receive during that infamous Night of Terror,” Spacht said.
Lewis and the other suffragists were sent to Occoquan Work House in Virginia, where they were manhandled, threatened and denied the right to be treated as political prisoners, Spacht said. Lewis and others were imprisoned for two weeks and forcibly fed after going on a hunger strike.
Spacht described this event as a defining moment in the women’s suffragist movement, leading up to Congress ultimately ratifying the 19th Amendment August 26, 1920.
Following Spacht’s presentation, DLA Troop Support Commander Army Brig. Gen. Eric Shirley and audience members asked questions, including what message Lewis would share with women today on succeeding in the workforce?
“I would boil it down to two words: perseverance and resiliency,” Spacht said. “Perseverance is the push that is needed over time, but resiliency is the bending. And if you’re not able to bend and get back up again, then you’re not going to be able to get back up again and eventually win the battle [for women’s rights].”
Shirley expressed his thoughts on the continued efforts as well.
“I am grateful to be a part of the Department of Defense; an organization that is dedicated to providing equal employment opportunities for women,” Shirley said.
The event was hosted by the DLA Troop Support Equal Employment Opportunity Office and Naval Supply Systems Command Weapon Systems Support EEO Advisory Committees.