America's finally honoring the fight for women's equality — with a national monument. It is, officially, the first national monument dedicated to the on-going fight for women's rights.
Now called the Belmont-Paul's Women's Equality National Monument, the building's new name honors Alice Paul, one of the founders of the National Woman's Party (NWP), and Alva Belmont, one of the party's most important benefactors and leaders. Paul is a famed suffragist who encouraged her fellow freedom fighters to push for a federal amendment that granted women the right to vote. She also organized a strike in front of the White House in 1917, which led to her arrest.
The White House re-named the home in Paul's honor because she played "an instrumental role in the passage and ratification of the 19th Amendment," according to a press statement.
She purchased the house in 1929 to house the NWP, which remained there until 1997, according to National Geographic.
Belmont's name graces the building for similar reasons. She used her wealth and influence to progress the women's rights cause. Belmont served as the NWP's president from 1920 until 1933, when she died, according to a fact sheet on the monument's website.
President Obama said honoring these women and this struggle is incredibly important to him and to future generations of Americans.
"[The Belmont-Paul's Women's Equality National Monument is] a hotbed of activism, a centerpiece for the struggle for equality, a monument to a fight not just for women's equality but, ultimately, for equality for everybody," he said in press conference at the new national monument.
Designating the building as a national monument ensures that federal funds will upkeep the building, which the current executive director, Page Harrington, has struggled with.
"As any small museum moves forward, it gets harder and harder to take care of all of the needs of the property and the needs of the collection," Harrington told National Geographic.
Now, the Parks Service will assist with maintaining the property, and conserving and curating the historical artifacts inside.
The National Parks Service isn't stopping with this amazing house. The White House notes that they're striving to be more inclusive and continue to tell the story of women's fight for equality.
"I want young girls and boys to come here, 10, 20, 100 years from now, to know that women fought for equality, it was not just given to them," Obama said. "I want them to be astonished that there was ever a time when women earned less than men for doing the same work. I want them to be astonished that there was ever a time when women were vastly outnumbered in the boardroom or in Congress, that there was ever a time when a woman had never sat in the Oval Office."
Making the Sewall-Belmont House & Museum an official national treasure is a good start.
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