Looking Back to the Future

Anita Pollitzer, among other things, was involved in the suffrage movement as a party organizer for the National Woman's Party.


That is how I would define social media on November 9th. An outburst of opinions dominated my newsfeed.


That is how I would define myself on social media on November 9th. I read through all of my friends’ thoughts but could not seem to weave a sentence together myself.

But I don’t want to be silent. After all, it’s not silent women who get stuff done, it’s an explosion of nasty women. So, in thinking about how to move forward and stand my ground, I look to the past. I look to a woman who got stuff done. I look to Anita Pollitzer.

Born and raised in Charleston, South Carolina, Anita Pollitzer became interested in the women’s suffrage movement in 1915 while living in New York, joining the National Woman’s Party (NWP), where she later became a chairman. There, she traveled around the country, gathering support for the cause she believed in. In 1917, she was arrested while picketing the White House as part of the Silent Sentinels. She is considered to be a key player in the ratification of the 19th amendment (which gave women the right to vote) by using her charm to secure the deciding vote of a Tennessee legislator. Later in her life, after receiving a degree in international law, she transferred her passion for women’s rights from her own country to the whole world. She became vice-chair of the World Woman’s Party, the international branch of the NWP, and was active in the International Woman Suffrage Alliance.

Anita’s story is one of perseverance and hope. It is a story of activism and strength. Pollitzer did so much to get the American people to the point we are at today.  Without her and her fellow female activists, women would not even have the ability to vote for their president, never mind the thought of actually running for president.  And although many, including myself, are frustrated and saddened that 2016 was not the year that this glass ceiling was broken, we must remember all of the others that have been shattered, thus allowing us to even look up that high.

I admire Anita’s tenacity for the cause in which she believed.  She didn’t let an arrest dishearten her or trample her pride. And then a short three years later, real change was made because she stuck with her gut.  This gives me so much hope for what we can do in just a few years. It is so important to not give up after a loss. If anything, it should give more ammunition to the fire burning in our souls. The key is not to give up on the values of equality and justice that we are striving towards. 

This will probably be posted in about a month’s time. I hope by then the fire will not be forgotten. I will probably reread this in about a year’s time. I hope by then we will be kicking and screaming at the glass ceiling just inches above our heads. I will probably have a child in about a decade’s time. I hope they will be able to read a textbook about the generation that made the dream of a female president a reality.

This piece was written as part of JWA’s Rising Voices Fellowship.

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How to cite this page

Olsberg, Eden. "Looking Back to the Future." 27 December 2016. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on April 19, 2024) <http://jwa.org/blog/risingvoices/looking-back-to-future>.