The streets of Boston and the Boston Common have seen many gatherings, protests, marches, and also celebrations through the years. From General Lafayette’s Visit In 1824 to Martin Luther King’s Speech In 1965, the anti-war protests and celebrities’ visits.
Some of the most important protests were led by women who fought for women’s rights and equality.
- March 7th, 1870, was the day of the first voting by women in the US. Fifty women marched down River Street in Hyde Park town to vote in the old town hall.
- Boston was the base of the national compulsory anti-alcohol education program. It was the brainchild of Mary H. Hunt, who was a temperance leader. She was the first one to successfully apply physiological arguments against the use of alcohol. Her campaign paved the way to the 1886 federal law requiring temperance instruction in schools, reaching approximately 22 million school children in 1902.
- On October 16, 1915, there was a Suffragists parade and rally to allow women’s voting rights.
- Boston Protest of 1919 – in February 1919, Boston suffragists picketed in front of Massachusetts State House during the visit of President Wilson in Boston. Their goal was to pressure him to pass the 19th amendment in the US Senate before their March 3rd recess. The suffragists were arrested before President Wilson arrival and sent to Charles Street Jail. Their arrest hit the front page on the news.
- In 1970 one of the first women’s liberation movement, Bread and Roses, organized International Women’s Day march on the Boston Common. They advocated for the right to abortion, child care, and equality in work opportunities.
- In April 1979, more than 500 women protested against violence targeting women. The protest was in response to a series of murders of young women in the Roxbury-Dorchester area.
- Massachusetts was the first state in the US to officially recognize same-sex marriages (2004), but its history of accepting same-sex arrangements goes way back. In the 19th century, “Boston Marriage” became a popular term for an arrangement between two single women living together, independent of men.
Boston Marriage could be a close friendship, shared household management, business partnership, an artistic collaboration, a lesbian romance, or a combination. It was practiced by upper class “intellectually-driven” women who wanted to develop their careers; hence, it is considered important in the history of gender equality. It was socially accepted and common. One to be in a long Boston Marriage is sculptress Anne Whitney.
- In March 2017, Women’s March with 175,000 participants took place in the city.