One of the founders of the women’s suffrage movement is to be honoured with the freedom of the city at a special meeting of Brighton and Hove City Council.
The council said: “A proposal to posthumously recognise suffragette Mary Clarke with the freedom of the city award will be discussed at full council later this year.
“The title of honorary freewoman or freeman is awarded to people who have, in the opinion of the council, rendered eminent service to the council or the city.
“Mary Jane Clarke was a vital figure in the women’s suffrage movement in the UK and our city, tirelessly campaigning for women’s right to vote.
“She was a co-founder of the National Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) with her older sister Emmeline Pankhurst and served as its organiser for Brighton from 1909 to 1910.
“During her time in Brighton, she helped build the WSPU operation in the south east and organise the campaigns for the general election, often addressing crowds of supporters on the seafront.
“She was one of the 300 women to demonstrate outside the Houses of Parliament during what is now known as ‘Black Friday’, where she was injured and beaten by the police.
“Throughout years of campaigning, she was a target of heckling and abuse. She was arrested three times and, in Holloway Prison, was subjected to force feeding – a cruel practice inflicted upon those on hunger strikes.
“She died on Christmas Day in 1910, two days after her release from Holloway. Mary is widely believed to be the first suffragette to die for women’s right to vote.
“We propose to recognise her legacy, sacrifice and extraordinary courage with a freedom of the city award, so that they don’t remain overlooked and hidden in history.”
Council leader Bella Sankey said: “It would be an honour to posthumously dedicate the freedom of the city award to Mary Clarke, whose extraordinary vision, dedication and strength helped shape the fabric of our city and the society we live in today.”
Councillor Sankey added: “Mary’s story, along with stories of other women who fought alongside her to achieve equality and emancipation, often go unrecorded, forgotten or hidden from history.
“A hundred years later, in times when women’s rights must still be fought for, Mary’s sacrifice continues to resonate and needs to be amplified.”
Moves are also under way for a statue of Mary Clarke to be erected in the Royal Pavilion Gardens, in Brighton.