91 years ago women seeking the right to vote were the first group to protest in front of the White House. Over the course of several months, hundreds of these women were arrested and put in prison. Many of them found themselves at the Occoquan Workhouse, a women's prison on the Fairfax County side of the Occoquan River. The exact site of the Workhouse is right on the edge of Rt. 123 by the entrance to the Fairfax Water treatment plant.
The news reports of these women's imprisonment were a key turning point in the effort to gain the right to vote. Because of these event, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution granting women the right to vote was passed. In order to highlight this important history the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority has been working with the League of Women Voters of the Fairfax Area to create an area within Occoquan Regional Park called Turning Point Plaza that can help interpret this history.
This site has three interpretive panels. The first one covering the begining of the movement that started with Abigail Adam asking her husband to "remember the ladies" during the dafting of the constitution up to the early 20th Century. The center panel covers the turning point role that the Occoquan Workhouse played in gaining the right to vote. The third panel covers some of some of the key efforts since the 19th Amendment to achieve equality for women, and points to the future of this movement.
This Sunday, July 27, 2008 at the Occoquan River Festival, we will dedicate The Turning Point Plaza, as a memorial dedicated to the suffragists imprisoned at the Occoquan Workhouse. “The League of Women Voters was started by the suffragists who continue to be models of courage for us,” said Mary Grace Lintz, acting President of the Fairfax Area League of Women Voters.
The struggles of people to gain the right to vote and participate in society as equals are stories that need to be told and retold to every generation. The stories of the suffragists, the end of slavery, and civil rights are the events that helped define America as the democracy it is today.
Future plans of the Turning Point Plaza suffragist memorial include a long, brick wall with inserted plaques to commemorate the suffragist struggle for American women’s right to vote. If you would like to contribute to this fundraising effort, please visit the League of Women Voters’ website, http://www.lwv-fairfax.org/. Or you may send monetary donations to:
The League of Women Voters
4026 Hummer Rd., #214
Annandale, VA 22013-2403
For more information on the Women's Suffragist Movement I would suggest visiting the Sewall-Belmont House Museum in Washington D.C. or visiting their web site at :http://www.sewallbelmont.org/