100 years ago on June 4th 1913 Emily Wilding Davison walked in front of the King’s horse in the Derby at Epsom to protest against the continuing denial of votes for women in Britain.
She died four days later from the impact of the collision. The WEA sent flowers to her funeral “with deepest regrets”.
Voting was extended to women in 1918 after the First World War. Davison was one of the most radical and active of the suffragettes and, along with others, had endured terrible brutality from the police and authorities in prison and on demonstrations. Looking back from today, it can seem extraordinary that the extension of the vote to women was resisted so strongly by the state. However, their struggle was seen as part of a wider challenge to the power and property of the ruling classes that characterised the first part of the 20th Century.
The centenary of her death has been widely marked but the issue she fought for is still important. Voting levels are dropping in UK elections. We can all mark this centenary by encouraging everyone eligible to register to vote.https://www.gov.uk/browse/citizenship/voting.
You may be on the register but are you sure your children/grandchildren are? If you teach for the WEA can you remind your students? If you’re a student – talk about it with others in your class.
The WEA supported a campaign to recognise Emily's sacrifice, and following the intervention of presenter Clare Balding, this year’s Derby Day organisers have commissioned the campaign to make a short photo and textual montage about Emily Davison and the suffragette struggle for the vote which will be shown on all the big screens at this year’s Derby.
The WEA’s vision: a better world – equal, democratic and just can only be achieved through an active and educated democracy. The WEA believed that in 1913 and there is much we can do today.