The Local Professor and the Suffragette

Rosalie Gardiner Jones was dubbed a ‘General’ by many, leading hundreds of ‘troops’ in the fight for women’s voting rights.

“Rosalie Gardiner Jones liked the idea of boots on the ground. She liked the idea of kind of winning the battle for hearts and minds, and she believed that to do that you would need to do something dramatic, something that was sort of epic and something that was active, dynamic and not just someone making a speech,” said Zachary Michael Jack, Associate Professor of English at North Central College.

Jones literally put her boots to the ground, organizing a march from Manhattan to Albany, New York, all in the name of women’s voting rights

Dubbed the ‘Suffrage Hike of 1912,’ around 200 women trekked 175 miles in 13 days at the end of December.

“It’s a testament to the human spirit, the fact that she did something so remarkable. And keep in mind that I have yet to find a woman’s rights, equal rights march of this length and this duration in American history up to this point, so this is really, really significant. Although it’s mostly been forgotten,” said Jack.

But Zachary Michael Jack refused to let it be forgotten, highlighting the historic journey in his newest book, “March of the Suffragettes: Rosalie Gardiner Jones and the March for Voting Rights.”

Jack explains, “The first thing to know is that it’s not a textbook, it’s a narrative. The second thing I guess I would say is that it’s a verb. It’s the march to voting rights, so that it’s not a book of stasis. It’s not a book about people talking and thinking about things. It’s really a book about people doing things.”

A march with an impact that stretches through history.

“It took a long time, many, many decades for Congress to really get serious about the 19th Amendment. And then think how long it took for these various thresholds, and here we are finally with a woman candidate from a major party, and it took us this long to get there. So I think that this story is really, really ripe for the telling and important for people to know,” said Jack.

It took Jack a few years to tell this story, as he is also an Associate Professor of English at North Central College.

“When I am teaching writing and also kind of concurrently writing a book I find myself, kind of in that way we all do, having that dissociative, disembodies experience where I’m listening to myself advising them, and I’m asking myself, you know are you really taking your own advice?” said Jack.

Jack has written over 20 books, and is currently working on a play.

The American Booksellers Association named this book one of the 2016 Best Books for Young Readers in the Teen Nonfiction category.

Naperville News 17’s Evan Summers reports.

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