Tell A Tale in 500 Words

Deeds...not words By Victor Sesay

My mother was probably one of the most influential people I have ever known. She fought for people like me to be able to vote, have equal rights as men and to just be treated as humans rather than second-class citizens. My name is Christabel Pankhurst and my mother was the very first suffragette-Emmeline Pankhurst.

My mother was not like normal mothers. She didn’t tell me stories of fairy tales and Cinderella, instead she described her every day adventures to my sisters and I. Her anecdotes were full of exploding post boxes and smashed windows. My mother and I spent the majority of our life as suffragettes. We had meetings once or twice a week, leaving my sisters with my father. In fact, my youngest sister Adela barely received any attention from mother. Like many suffragettes, my mother was arrested on numerous occasions and went on hunger strikes resulting in violent force-feeding. As I got older, my mother would come back very weak from prison and she wouldn’t participate in any of her violent protests until she got better. This usually took about 4 weeks. Those periods were probably when Adela saw mother and me most. Inside, she was undoubtedly glad to have mother back.

At 18 my mother, younger sister Sylvia, and I were persuaded to participate in the pursuit for women’s suffrage when we listened to Eva Gore-Booth, a member of the NUWSS-the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies in Manchester. She was trying to persuade women to join the NUWSS. Mother did not believe in the tactics of the NUWSS; they were pacifists. At 45 years old, my mother co-founded the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), which became better known as the Suffragettes. Soon after creating the suffragettes, my father died. My mother was devastated; she went on a hunger strike for almost a week, not for the suffragettes, but out of grief. Father was her rock; her way to the top, and it was all gone. But she didn’t stop. Her motto became ‘deeds not words’; and because of this, I decided to name this biography just that. Everyone must understand that my mother was not an attention seeking lunatic. She was pushed so far over the edge that it was the only thing she could do.

In spite of her anger at the government and most men in general, she showed her full support to the allies in the Great War. I even went to Russia at 37 years old to stop them from pulling out the war (and to please my mother) and I supported the ignorant ‘politician’ known as David Lloyd George who stalled the vote for women’s suffrage. My mother died at 69 years old on June 14th 1928. On July 2nd 1928, Parliament gave women full voting rights on par with men. Today is that day and I wish my mother were alive to see it.


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