What would Marie Equi do? Would she be getting ready to celebrate in 2020 the centennial of women finally getting the vote? In states across the U.S. women today are planning to honor the thousands of suffragists who persisted and finally won suffrage in 1920. Yet Marie Equi, a longtime suffragist and political agitator, was in a far different situation from her feminist colleagues when the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified. She was a few months from doing time in San Quentin prison after being convicted for sedition. Specifically, her offense was publicly voicing her opposition to the war. She exercised what she thought was her right to free speech and gave talks describing the war as a capitalist, imperialist venture in which working-class people would suffer the most.
Earlier this year I was invited to imagine how Marie Equi might have reacted to the news of women getting the vote in 1920. Desiree Root, a senior Gender Studies student and assistant in Professor Kimberly Jensen’s Honors Colloquium at Western Oregon University, conducted the discussion. It was published with other interviews as part of the Oregon Women’s History Consortium, a statewide organization that supports research and education about the history of women in Oregon. You can read my interview here.
Intrigued with this fiercely independent woman, physician, agitator, and one of the first publicly known lesbians on the West Coast? Check my website michaelhelquist.com and look for my biography “Marie Equi: Radical Politics & Outlaw Passions,” Oregon State University Press, at bookstores and online retail sites.
Author Historian Activist