Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/08/30/rebellions-work
The Suffragette (1911) by Estelle Sylvia Pankhurst is a startlingly familiar good read from one of the leaders of the defiantly militant British movement for woman suffrage, who called themselves suffragettes as distinct from the non-militant suffragists. Their constant challenge was dreaming up some brilliant new militant tactic to upset everyone, some way of invading a speaking venue they hadn’t thought of before – to clog the jails with their bodies getting arrested for interrupting Churchill or Gladstone.
For their offenses of being a political nuisance, they were usually sentenced to a fine or jail term, and almost invariably opted for the jail, where a secondary protest developed against their treatment as common criminals (as opposed to the better conditions accorded political prisoners, such as Irish rebels). To protest non-recognition as political prisoners they commenced hunger strikes – it’s possible they invented hunger strikes. Wards would strap them down to force an “India rubber” tube up the prisoner’s nose. Very painful, serious, debilitating oppression of women who just wanted to vote. Eventually, the program of protest which provoked such outrages worked. Women got the vote in UK.
From Pankhurst’s moving conclusion, on the honor of having a struggle to struggle with:
So the gallant struggle for a great reform draws to its close. Full of stern fighting and bitter hardship as it has been, it has brought much to the women of our time – a courage, a self-reliance, a comradeship, and above all a spiritual growth, a conscious dwelling in company with the ideal, which has tended to strip the littleness from life and to give to it the character of an heroic mission.
Once again one of the largest African-American rebellions is overlooked. The Black Loyalists. Who now remembers Colonel Tye of the Ethiopian Regiment and the Black Brigade?
Great article. Should be required reading for all American students.
It’s good to have a refresher of things once learned but since, perhaps, forgotten, as well as an introduction to new, and long suppressed yet important elements of our history.
Sylvia broke with her mother and sisters during WW1 when they became jingoistic patriots.
Sylvia went on to transform her woman’s movement into a class movement and embraced socialism. She found herself in opposition to Lenin.
Worth reading is this short pamphlet
Later she became involved with defending Abyssinia where she lived for much of her life.
A collection of her writings can be read here
Thanks much. Having recently enjoyed her work Suffragette, I’ll add that Sylvia Pankhurst’s words indicate she fancies herself a writer – she especially savors any description of one of her comrades, stepping onto the world stage.
I highly and strongly recommend the People’s Party Convention video beginning at 3:48:42 that includes (begins with) the proposed platform and the last three very powerful speakers (not to denigrate previous speakers) Marianne Williamson, Dr Cornell West, and Sen Nina Turner - all three set the stage on fire!
If we needed any further call to arms, or synopsis of critical issues and where we stand, or messages of unity - who we struggle against, and the WHY, it is encapsulated in these three very articulate and important leaders!
~https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6u5xPJaW2s - I humbly recommend beginning at the 3:48:42 point in the near 5 1/2 hour video convention.
Peaceful protest is all well and good, I support it, I participate in it.
But this what we’re up against, and citing all the historic “progress” in the world doesn’t change the fact that progress and regression both occur, and the latter is clearly happening now:
A critical mass of the po-po are now out of control. They are violent, they are racists, they are organized “gangs,” they need to quashed. They weren’t suddenly pushed in a bad direction by the recent riots – they were out of control long before George Floyd’s murder triggered this long overdue backlash.
your posted link appears correct but does not work - this does