Congressional Gold Medal sought for South Jersey suffragist Alice Paul

 'Alice Paul' by Harris & Ewing, Inc. (This image is available from the United States Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs division/Licensed under Public Domain via Commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Alice_paul.jpg#/media/File:Alice_paul.jpg)

'Alice Paul' by Harris & Ewing, Inc. (This image is available from the United States Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs division/Licensed under Public Domain via Commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Alice_paul.jpg#/media/File:Alice_paul.jpg)

A New Jersey congressman wants to posthumously bestow the nation’s highest award on Alice Paul, a prominent women’s rights activist who hailed from the Garden State.

U.S. Rep. Tom MacArthur sponsored a bill calling for Paul to be awarded with the Congressional Gold Medal, the country’s most prestigious honor for national achievements and contributions.

“She really is a South Jersey hero,” said MacArthur. “There’ve been very few people who’ve done so much for so many, and I just feel she should be celebrated for her life’s work, which was bringing justice and equality for women.”

Born in Mount Laurel in 1885, Paul organized demonstrations for women’s rights outside the White House during World War I and staged a hunger strike after being arrested for picketing.

Perhaps her crowning achievement, Paul was integral in the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which extended women the right to vote.

MacArthur said that it is as important to fight for equality in today’s socially charged climate as it was in Paul’s time.

“Just because you may not agree with the tactics of this group or that group — and groups can go too far sometimes,” said MacArthur. “I think you have to look past that and look at the social injustice that has made them so angry.”

The bill is awaiting a vote in the House Financial Services Committee.

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