Anita Lily Pollitzer

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Contributed by Gilli Richman

Anita Lily Pollitzer was born in Charleston, South Carolina on October 31, 1894.  She was the fourth child of Jewish Eastern European immigrants.  After Pollitzer graduated from the School of Practical Arts at the Teachers College at Columbia University in 1916, she marched in the suffrage parade in New York down Fifth Avenue.  She made a big decision to move to Washington to work for National Woman’s Party (NWP) shortly after receiving her diploma.  Pollitzer became a leader in both the equal rights and suffrage movements.  She traveled through various states and organized fundraisers, gave speeches, and even participated in picketing outside the White House during Woodrow Wilson’s administration.  

Pollitzer played a crucial role in the ratification of the 19th Amendment by dining with legislator Harry T. Burns the night before he had to vote in a special session of the Tennessee Legislature.  As a result, Burns ultimately cast the deciding vote in 1920.  Pollitzer continued with her long-lasting work for the NWP.  At only 25 years of age, she became the Secretary of the Legislative Committee for the NWP as a result of her success in talking with senators and her various lobbying victories.  After her time serving as Secretary, Pollitzer was then elected Vice-Chairman of the NWP from 1927 to 1938.  In addition to her fight for the 19th Amendment and women’s suffrage, Pollitzer also put her time and effort into supporting the Equal Rights Amendment into becoming part of the United States Constitution.