News & Politics

A New Suffragist Memorial Is Open in Virginia

The outdoor attraction includes life-size statues and replica White House gates.

Turning Point Suffragist Memorial. Courtesy of Turning Point Suffragist Memorial Association.

A new memorial 13 years in the making, which honors the “entire arc” of the Women’s Suffragist Movement, was dedicated in Lorton on May 16. Billed as the first of its kind, the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial commemorates the decades-long fight for the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote.

The memorial is made of 19 different stations, and it is said to be the first to cover the movement in its entirety, from 1848 to 1920. Guests are greeted by a bronze, life-size statue of Alice Paul, who led the National Woman’s Party. The memorial also features statues of Mary Church Terrell, NAACP co-founder, and Carrie Chapman Calt, president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association and founder of the League of Women Voters.

“The fight continues for the right to vote, whether it’s ballot access in all 50 states, or whether it’s the fight for DC Statehood in our nation’s capital,” said Debora Wake, president of the Virginia League of Women Voters, at the dedication ceremony. “We honor these women who fought for the right to vote and serve as an inspiration to those of us who continue this fight.”

Three life-size, bronze statues appear in the memorial. This one depicts Mary Church Terrell, who co-founded the NAACP. Photo courtesy of the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial.

The memorial is near the Workhouse Arts Center and the former Lorton Reformatory. When the prison was known as the Occoquan Workhouse, it was the site of the Night of Terror, a turning point in the suffrage fight. Suffragists were imprisoned for picketing Woodrow Wilson’s White House, then subjected to inhumane conditions and violence. Replica White House gates are part of the memorial.

“Our mission for this memorial was to educate, inspire, and empower present and future generations,” Nancy Lyons Sargeant, president of the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial Association, said in a press release. “These stories of bravery, perseverance and dedication are being shared with the public in an educational format, highlighting the need for vigilance in the quest for equal rights.”

The Turning Point Suffragist Memorial is located at 9751 Ox Road in Lorton, Virginia.