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Five Lessons from the Women’s Suffrage Movement

  1. Embrace a broad definition of political activism which goes beyond electoral politics but still encourages women to change the political system from within
  2. Use popular culture and new forms of media to get the word out, but don’t forget older techniques like lobbying and grassroots organization
  3. Deploy public spectacle and mass demonstrations to bring women (and men) into public spaces, while simultaneously creating instantly recognizable symbols and slogans to support demands
  4. Be intersectional: mobilize coalitions and alliances that cross race, class, and other boundaries and draw on the energies of multiple, overlapping generations
  5. Remember that feminism is a cumulative effort, not a one-off event, and it will always be necessary

All of these observations are as relevant today as they were at the height of suffrage mobilization. In fact, there is a direct line from the spectacles of the suffrage campaign to the sea of pink pussy hats worn at the Women’s Marches held across the country—indeed around the world—in January 2017 to protest the inauguration of Donald Trump. Feminism and women’s rights are an ongoing struggle and the women’s suffrage campaign is a vital part of that story.