Suffering Suffragists

A local resident celebrates the legacy of her aunt and grandmother and their fight for the 19th amendment
Suffrage Protestors Burn Speech By President Wilson 160002v
Gloria Burnam's aunt, Lucy Branham, burns the "empty words" of President Woodrow Wilson while demonstrating with other National Woman's Party members in Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 16, 1918.

 

It’s easy for today’s women to take voting in local, state and national elections for granted. Why not? They have always enjoyed that right. But as the late journalist Helen Thomas is quoted as saying, “Young women today think all this just dropped from the sky. … They have no idea how long women struggled.”

As we all go to the polls this month – in the year that marks the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage – one local woman has an especially good reason to commemorate that struggle. She is Gloria Branham Burnam, and her aunt and grandmother paraded, picketed the White House and even went to jail for the cause. 

Indeed, her courageous relatives fought beside such champions of the suffrage movement as Alice Paul and are recognized for their efforts in the museum of the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument in Washington, D.C.

Burnam, who is 81, remembers her aunt and grandmother, both named Lucy Gwynne Branham, as independent women who valued education. “My grandmother, who was from Baltimore, was widowed in her mid-20s,” Burnam says. “She was the mother of an 18-month-old, my Aunt Lucy, and was six months pregnant with my father.

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