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Iron Jawed Angels
SUBJECTS — U.S./1913 - 1929;
SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL LEARNING — Courage; Human Rights; Leadership;
MORAL-ETHICAL EMPHASIS — Fairness, Respect.
Age: 13+; MPAA Rating: NR (Est. PG-13); 2004; 123 minutes; Color
In 1917 Alice Paul and the National Women's Party picketed the White House demanding that women be allowed to vote. After the First World War began and the "Silent Sentinels" remained at their posts, they were assaulted by violent crowds and falsely arrested for blocking the sidewalk. After trials that were grossly unfair, the suffragists were imprisoned in harsh conditions and subjected to treatment that today would be considered torture. Public outrage was immense. Alice Paul and her militants kept demonstrating and putting pressure on President Wilson until the 19th Amendment, giving women the vote, was made the law of the land.
This movie can be used to vividly impress upon students the following important historical lessons not taught in high school history textbooks:
(1) when the militant wing of thesuffrage movement, led by Alice Paul, used nonviolent protests to demand the vote, they were assaulted by crowds of men and denied police protection;
(2) the government tried to suppress the militants' nonviolent protests with false arrests, unfair trials, imprisonment in harsh conditions, and what can best be described as torture;
(3) the militant suffragists withstood the violence, imprisonment and torture, continuing their protests and refusing to back down, while strictly adhering to nonviolence;
(4) the arguments of the militant suffragists and the public's outrage at the way they were treated, as well as respect for the strength of the suffragists' commitment, were factors in the passage of the 19th Amendment, although the efforts of the National American Women's Suffrage Association (NAWSA) and its leader, Mrs. Carrie Chapman Catt, were probably more important factors in passing the amendment; and
(5) Alice Paul and the NWP independently developed tactics of nonviolent protest which were strikingly similar to the methods of promoting political and social change being developed at about the same time by Mahatma Gandhi.
The film will inspire students to study the movement for women's equality, one of the five great advances in human rights in the U.S. since the beginning of the 20th century. The others were the grant of equal treatment for black Americans and other minorities, the procedural protections given to persons accused of crimes (achieved primarily through court decisions), granting access and other rights to the disabled (achieved through legislation) and the grant of equal rights to homosexuals, including the right to raise children and to marry. While all these advances are works in process, the last has been only partially realized and is still controversial today.
TWM is proud to announce that it has acquired the rights to two interviews of women who participated in the Suffrage Movement, Jessie Haver Butler and Laura Ellsworth Seiler. These interviews can be accessed through the Learning Guide. The Learning Guide also contains a set of questions relating to natural law.
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How did Alice Paul and the National Women's Party independently develop most of the tactics made famous by Mahatma Gandhi? Iron Jawed Angels will help pose that question to studens.
Learning Guide Excerpt
To demonstrate how our Learning Guides can be used by teachers to improve lesson plans, we have set out below a paragraph from the Learning Guide to Iron Jawed Angels.
The suffragists were applying all of the principles of nonviolent mass action also called civil disobedience: meeting violence with peacefulness; generating massive publicity; applying political or economic pressure; and making arguments that worked on the conscience of the general public and of their adversaries. The militants' campaign kept the suffrage issue in the forefront of the national consciousness and was a factor in leading President Wilson to change his position that suffrage was a matter better left to the states and to work actively for passage of the 19th Amendment.
The Learning Guide to the film Iron Jawed Angels contains sections on Benefits of the Movie, Possible Problems, Helpful Background, Discussion Questions, Links to the Internet, and Bridges to Reading. The Discussion Questions are divided into three categories: Subject Matter, Social-Emotional Learning, and Moral-Ethical Emphasis.
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