(1879–1966) Lucy was raised in Brooklyn, New York to parents who were in unconventionally in favor of educating all of their children, including their daughters so Lucy received the best possible schooling, graduating from Vassar in 1902 and attending Yale graduate school.
From 1906-08, Lucy studied in Germany, returning to teach in the Brooklyn Public School system. Three years later she went to England to resume study at Oxford University and became involved with the militant activism for the women’s suffrage movement that was gaining popularity in Europe. Her dedication was such that she was given an award from the Parkhurst’s Women’s Social and Political union.
While in England, Lucy met with fellow American and suffragist Alice Paul and they both returned to the United States together to fight for the women’s right to vote in America. In 1912 the women began their battle by actively organizing protests and speaking out to the press about the right for women to vote. In 1913 they formed the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage, which organized a 5,000-woman march in Washington on the inaugural day of President Woodrow Wilson.
By 1915 the women had branched off and formed their own group - the National Women’s Party - and continued the fight for the vote. Burns spent time in various courthouses and jails during her career, but her most famous stint was that which occurred after picketing the White House in 1917 that got her and her party members (including Paul) locked up in the Occoquan Workhouse. Paul and Stone organized a 19-day hunger strike. Both women endured beatings and force feedings but stayed the course and served their sentence. With six arrests and numerous detainments, Lucy Burns spent more time in jail for the women’s suffrage than any other woman at the time. Alice Paul spoke of her tireless dedication by describing her friend as “a thousand times more valiant than I."
Lucy was considered the literary power behind the group and edited the “Suffragette” newspaper and along with Paul made speeches that forced even those who opposed them to listen. In her book “Jailed for Freedom” a biography of the movement for women’s suffrage, author Doris Stevens writes, "Her talent as an orator is of the kind that makes for instant intimacy with her audience." After the women’s right to vote was granted in 1920 Lucy retired from the political activism scene and moved back to Brooklyn to live with her family. Brooklyn’s “Lucy Burns Activist Award” is given annually in her honor to those who continue to make a difference in the world of Women’s rights. Dubbed along with Paul and several other members of the NWP as an "Iron Jawed Angel" her character was portrayed in the HBO production of the same name. (Bio excerpted from: R. Digati)
Holy Cross Cemetery
St. Augustine, System CEM, Section AUGU, Row 33, Plot 4
3620 Tilden Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11203