Monday, 4 March 2013

Emily Wilding Davison centenary - fighting for liberation

Here, first, is something from Philosophy Football to tie in with International Women's Day (8 March) and the centenary of Emily Wilding Davison's death. Below you will find the details of an event I'm helping organise in Newcastle to mark the centenary. I hope the locals among you can get along next Thursday, not only to mark an important centenary but to discuss the continuing struggles for equality, real democracy and women's liberation. Both the Philosophy Football shirts and the Newcastle event are linked to the Emily Wilding Davison Campaign.
Via Mark Perryman at Philosophy Football:

One hundred years ago the Epsom Derby was disrupted by perhaps the most famous protest at a sporting event in history.
Britain at the time was bitterly divided. The early trade unions were striking against poverty wages and appalling working conditions. The cause for Ireland's freedom was attracting support on both sides of the Irish Sea. And from the Suffragettes there was a massive wave of non-violent direct action.
For these Suffragettes the Derby was absolutely a legitimate target for their protest. Horse-racing was the sport of the Establishment, Epsom a day out to celebrate tradition - one that denied women the vote. The King and Queen would be in attendance to watch the King's horse race for glory.
When Emily Wilding Davison ran on to the racecourse a century ago she hoped to stop the race and ensure that women's voices be heard.  When the horse racing at full speed collided with her the chances of survival were virtually non-existent. She never regained consciousness and four days later she lost her battle to live.  
Emily's heroic, yet fatal, action formed part of a protest movement that involved many thousands more women.  From smashing every shop window in London's West End to blowing up post boxes, via disrupting Parliament's proceedings and heckling MPs at public meetings this was a campaign few could ignore.
So instead imprisonment. When the demand by the women that they be treated as political prisoners was also ignored, the Suffragettes responded by going on hunger strike. Again their punishment was more repression. Brutalised by force-feeding, these ferociously brave women still refused to abandon their cause.
Philosophy Football have produced a set of commemorative designs featuring the colours purple, green and white. These were hugely symbolic for the Suffragette cause. Purple was for dignity, white for purity and green for hope. Deeds not Words and Dare to be Free were the twin ideals - worn as brooches, on sashes, carried as banners - that shaped the Suffragette movement.  
A century later we can wear them again as T-shirts. All designs available from Philosophy Football -
the shirts are in support of the Emily Wilding Davison Centenary Campaign.


Thursday 14th March, 7:00pm
DEEDS NOT WORDS: Emily Wilding Davison Centenary Event
Black Swan, (next to Newcastle Arts Centre), 69 Westgate Road, Newcastle, NE1

One hundred years ago militant suffragette Emily Wilding Davison was killed after running in front of the King’s horse at the Epsom Derby. She sacrificed her life in the struggle for women’s rights and democracy. The campaign to get a minute’s silence at this year’s Derby will be holding this event celebrating the life and struggle of Emily Wilding Davison.

SPEAKERS: Kate Connelly (memorial campaign co-ordinator and author of forthcoming book on suffragette Sylvia Pankhurst), Yvonne Ridley (writer and broadcaster), Florence Anderson (Labour councillor in Sunderland and formerly a leading Women Against Pit Closures activist), Penni Blythe-Jones (organiser of the centenary programme in Northumberland). Chaired by socialist and feminist activist Lizi Gray. PLUS: songs by folk choir Werca’s Folk (Director, Sandra Kerr)


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