Women in the Progressive Era: Relentless Pursuit of Liberty and Equality

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“Resistance to tyranny is obedience to God." The exacerbation of issues that plagued America for centuries combined with the disturbing realities of urban and factory life gave birth to the Progressive Movement—a movement composed of a diverse coalition that sought to improve modern industrial society and American democracy. This period spawned many ardent American activists. Social critics such as Upton Sinclair, Jacob Riis, and Jane Adams advocated for wide-reaching social reform. Others targeted causes that would improve life for specific groups. Ida B. Wells and Alice Paul emerged as the leaders of two organized and passionate movements that, in many ways, defined this era. Wells launched her anti-lynching campaign in the late…show more content…
Wells, a confident and independent young woman, had her heart and consciousness firmly rooted in activism. A self-assured and sophisticated voice spoke every time her pen danced across a sheet of paper. Like Ida B. Wells, Alice Paul’s upbringing molded her into the courageous and headstrong woman that she became. Paul’s parents, Hicksite Quakers, instilled in their children the faith’s fundamental ideology, most notably gender equality and hard, honest work. An active member of the National American Women’s Suffrage Association (NAWSA), Alice’s mother, Tacie, often took her to the group’s weekly meetings. Paul once stated, “When the Quakers were founded...one of their principles was and is equality of the sexes. So I never had any other idea...the principle was always there.” Education served as the foundation of Paul’s family legacy. Her maternal grandfather, Judge William Parry, founded the coeducational Swarthmore College—the college that both Alice and her mother attended. Paul also earned an M.A. in Sociology and a Ph.D in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania in the early 1900s. Although they existed on opposite sides of the American racial divide, Paul and Wells both espoused equality for underrepresented groups. Wells pioneered her famous anti-lynching campaign and Paul initiated the final push that forced Congress to grant women voting rights. Both women demanded basic human and
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