The campaign by the National Women’s History Project to honor Inez Milholland, America’s suffrage martyr, with the Presidential Citizen’s Medal is gaining ground. The medal, the second highest of civilian awards, recognizes Americans who have made significant contributions to the nation’s progress.
Citing her “vital” leadership in the suffrage movement, Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA) nominated Milholland (1886-1916) for the presidential award and called Milholland “a shining star in the pantheon of inspiring leaders” in the early 20th century. Speier nominated Inez for the medal earlier in 2016.
The Milholland nomination emphasizes the importance of honoring the suffrage activist during 2016, the centennial of her death. Milholland died in Los Angeles of exhaustion and pernicious anemia on November 25, 1916. She spent summers on her family’s land in Lewis, New York, which is now the Meadowmount School of Music.
The Inez Milholland Centennial project’s website offers information and resources as well as the “Honor Inez” buttons that are being worn by voters throughout the nation. The loss of the charismatic, thirty-year-old New York attorney intensified women’s efforts for the ballot and led to the picketing of the White House in January 1917.
The year-long centennial campaign is part of the National Women’s History Project, the 35-year-old educational center responsible for the month of March being officially designated as National Women’s History Month. The effort is also part of the preparation for the national suffrage centennial in 2020.
New York State Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul is the chair for the 14-member state suffrage commission for the observance during 2017.
Photo: Inez Milholland leading a Suffrage Parade on March 3, 1913.