A statue of Emily Wilding Davison
It’s fitting to be speaking today about Emily Wilding Davison, made famous by the action she took in this town. Today is the day that a statue of Millicent Fawcett, a renowned suffragist,has been unveiled in Parliament Square. The statue is holding a sign with the words Millicent Fawcett used in her speech about the death of Emily Davison
“courage calls to courage everywhere”
I would like to call upon you to follow that lead
Emily was born Emily Wilding Davison on the 11th October, 1872.
In 1895 Emily was awarded first-class honours in English in the Oxford University examination for women, though, as Oxford degrees were closed to women, this did not enable her to graduate.
After a period of teaching Emily returned to university education and graduated from the University of London Emily again taught until In 1907 when she gave up full-time teaching to devote her time to the WSPU, The Women’s Social and Political union
Emily Davison was a militant and like many suffragettes paid dearly for her dedication imprisoned 9 times and tortured with force feeding even when not on a hunger strike. Whilst imprisoned guards her cell was filled with water to such an extent that she believed she was going to drown.
One action for which Emily was imprisoned was for throwing stones at a car taking David Lloyd George to a meeting in Newcastle. The stones were wrapped in Emily’s favourite words:
“Rebellion against tyrants is obedience to God.”
Emmeline Pankhurst met Davison during this period and this is what she said about her:
“Emily Wilding Davison was a character almost inevitably developed by a struggle such as ours. She was a B.A. of London University, and had taken first-class honours at Oxford in English Language and Literature. Yet the women’s cause made such an appeal to her reason and her sympathies that she put every intellectual and social appeal aside and devoted herself untiringly and fearlessly to the work of the Union.”
It was on June 4th 1913 Emily Davison stepped onto Epsom racecourse and was fatally injured under the hooves of the King’s horse. She died of her injuries at the Old Cottage Hospital on Alexandra Rd four days later.
For those of you not aware may I suggest you watch the film made by C4 with Claire Balding examining the different camera shots. It was suggested that Emily was trying to pin the suffragette colours onto the bridle of the horse.
Please may I say so many people have already done so much work to enable the erection of a statue of Emily Davison in the town centre? The Emily Davison Memorial Project have found a sculptor who has designed a statue, they have identified the costs involved, they have a project plan and gained national interest and support for the statue. Several Cllrs and council officers have been supportive and offered help and advice to help the project move forward so huge progress has already been made. We should thank everyone who has contributed so far
Now is the time for the council to commit to ensuring this statue is erected. It is an opportunity for the borough to celebrate the centenary of parliament passing the Representation of the People Act.
This year improvements are planned in the market square and there is a budget allocated for seating and enhancing the environment. What a fantastic focal point a statue in recognition of Emily’s role in getting the vote for women would be.
The members of EEBC should commit to erecting a statue to Emily in the town centre. A woman died in this town who was a main driver to get women the vote
Every organisation has drivers and blockers. The drivers see the barriers and work out how they can get over them, round them or smash through them. Emily Davison was a driver through and through and we as members need to follow her example and commit to ensuring this statue is unveiled in this town.
Did you know that excluding Queen Victoria only 2.7 % of statues in the UK commemorate women and that includes those of the Virgin Mary?
E&E council can pay their respects to one of the many suffragettes who brought change to this country, by the erection of a statue of Emily Wilding Davison that acknowledges her contribution to the emancipation of women; as a tribute to the women of the borough and in recognition of her association with Epsom
All that is needed is
• an investment of just £3000 for a seat
• officer legal and administrative support to the Emily Davison Memorial project
• and a wholesale commitment to make this happen
I trust you can support the motion
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