Join us at City Lit Books on Sunday, June 23rd, 2019 at 3:30pm for reading from A Suffragatte in America: Reflections on Prisoners, Pickets and Political Change by Sylvia Pankhurts, Edited by Katherine Connelly. Katherine will be in conversation with Amy Laiken, the newly elected president of Working Women's History Project, having served as secretary of the group for 7 years.
Published for the first time, this is Sylvia Pankhurst’s text about her two tours of North America in 1911 and 1912. An English militant suffragette, she was expected to appeal for support from progressive elites. Instead, Pankhurst identified with the marginalised and recorded their stories.
In 1911, leading English suffragette Sylvia Pankhurst visited America. Unlike other suffragette leaders, who spent their time in America among the social elite, Pankhurst wasted no time getting right to the heart of America's social problems. She visited striking laundry workers in New York and female prisoners in Philadelphia and Chicago, and she grappled firsthand with shocking racism in Nashville.
This book gathers Pankhurst's writings from the year-long visit, in which she reveals her shock at the darkness hidden in American life, and draws parallels to her experiences of imprisonment and misogyny in her own country. Never before published, these writings mark an important stage in the development of the suffragette's thought, which she brought back to Britain to inform the burgeoning suffrage campaign there.
The result was a powerful indictment of American capitalism. Repulsed by the stark inequalities, Pankhurst was nevertheless inspired by the struggles for change. Her encounters with reformers and striking workers in Chicago had an enduring impact – and would change the course of suffrage history.
Pankhurst’s text is edited and introduced by Katherine Connelly - writer, historian, and an expert on Sylvia Pankhurst. She is also the author of the biography Sylvia Pankhurst: Suffragette, Socialist and Scourge of Empire, and is a lecturer based in London.
About Working Women's History Project
Working Women's History Project preserves and promotes the stories of historical and living Chicago women who have made contributions toward achieving justice and equality in the areas of labor, women's,human, and civil rights. They do this in several ways, including researching women's stories, collecting oral histories, and staging performance pieces based on their stories in various public venues. One of their projects that is particularly relevant now was to stage a play, "Radical Ideas! Women and the Vote!," written by local playwright, Mary Bonnett. First performed in 2013, it tells the stories of 3 Illinois women suffragists, of different backgrounds and political approaches, who struggled to achieve partial suffrage for women in Illinois in 1913, 7 years prior to the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which granted women full suffrage. In partnership with the League of Women Voters of Chicago, they presented this play 4 times.