Remembering Helen Keller on International Women’s Day

Remembering Helen Keller on International Women’s Day

Although she is mainly remembered for her advocacy for people with disabilities, Helen Keller also described herself as a “militant suffragette” and participated in the large parade known as the “Woman Suffrage Procession” in Washington, DC in 1913.

Keller graduated from Radcliffe College in 1904 and was the first deaf-blind person to earn a bachelor’s degree.

She also supported the movement for greater access to birth control for women.

In 1918, she was part of a women’s organization that presented a petition signed by 5,000 women to the New York Legislature. Keller later wrote that they took the petition to the chairman of the committee that was to report on the measure. “He said it was a good bill, and ought to pass,” Keller wrote, “but nothing was heard of it. After the women had waited a reasonable time, they sent up a request to know what had become of the bill. The chairman said he did not remember anything about it. He was reminded that the bill had been brought to him signed by five thousand women.”

According to Keller, his reply was that “a bill signed by five thousand women is not worth the paper it is written on. Get five men to sign, and we’ll do something about it.”

“That is one reason we demand the vote,” Keller wrote. “We want five thousand women to count for more than five men.”

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