Promoting suffrage centennials requires an examination of the history of how women won the vote and the various reasons why this part of American history hasn’t received the attention it deserves. Musician and historian Gerri Gribi addresses this topic in a brief audio podcast where she examines what she discovered after spending several decades speaking to groups and performing songs about women and their history. This is important to keep in mind with the upcoming 2017 suffrage centennial in New York State that will coincide with the centennial of the United States entering World War I. Unless there’s a concerted effort to care about and promote the suffrage movement, this period of our history may well be overpowered by other centennial observances in New York and around the nation. We won’t be able to say that Gerri Gribi didn’t warn us. Pull up a chair, listen, and reflect. The podcast.Learn More
Word is spreading about the importance of the suffrage movement in American history. And the subject matter takes over the local news when someone like Bernice Ende rides into Rochester and Fayetteville, NY to tell people that’s she’s honoring our suffrage ancestors when she talks about suffrage centennials. Ende is from Montana, one of two states honoring its suffrage centennial in 2014. Recently she stopped in Rochester to visit Susan B. Anthony’s grave and then carved out a visit to the Susan B. Anthony House before heading to Fayetteville and the Matilda Joslyn Gage Center. Friends and neighbors in both towns spread out a red carpet for Bernice. And for good reason!
Figuring that Bernice didn’t have much time to spend on a computer crafting a quote for this web site, we suggested that Bernice offer up a single sentence to sum up her ride. So she sent back a reply: “What do you say to a woman who devoted her life to unlocking doors you now freely walk thru? What do you say to the woman who cleared what was once a pitiful path to become what is now a free-way that I travel on? I simply couldn’t believe I was witnessing such an important region! AND the appreciation I felt to the women who work to keep this history alive. Goodness, you all need to be applauded. I know Susan would be proud of you.” Bernice understands the importance of putting both Gage and Anthony on her priority list and telling others about their remarkable lives and contributions. She’s modeling how to put the spirit of the suffrage activists to work in our own lives. Bernice’s web site.
Bernice says that if she rides into your town, she’s available to present a slideshow on women’s suffrage. So contact her at email@example.com if you’d like to schedule a presentation. See her blog for the route of travel.
Photos of Bernice Ende in Rochester, NY by John Adamski. Photo #1 at Susan B. Anthony’s grave: Bernice and Deborah Hughes of the Susan B. Anthony House. Photo #2: Bernice at the Susan B. Anthony House on 17 Madison Street in Rochester, NY.
The Sewall-Belmont House and the National Archives in Washington, DC collaborated to set aside August 26th, Women’s Equality Day, for a panel discussion of the upcoming 2020 suffrage centennial that was streamed online. It’s still possible to review the highlights of the hour-long conversation. It may seem like a discussion scheduled well in advance of the centennial, although moderator Page Harrington of the Sewall-Belmont House emphasized that the purpose of the discussion was to “expand the dialogue and get it out into the mainstream.”
The panelists included Bridget Howe for the Girl Scouts; Dr. Ida E. Jones of the Moorland-Springarn Research Center at Howard University; Cindi Malinick of the National Trust for Historic Preservation; Dr. Libby O’Connell, chief historian for the History Channel; Nancy E. Tate for the League of Women Voters; and Page Harrington of the Sewall-Belmont House.
No matter where you are in the 2020 suffrage centennial food chain, it’s important to get out the word to all interested organizations to begin planning for 2020. It may seem early; however, this is a national celebration even if the effort at the present time doesn’t have a national commission already at work like the one underway for World War I. There’s a great deal of dreaming and conversation about the national suffrage centennial. People are determined to do something. That’s why the August 26th streaming panel discussion seems like an important step in the right direction.
The rich tapestry of suffrage stories was mentioned enough times by the panelists to be of note. How the suffrage movement centennial will fit into the programs of the Girl Scouts is something to watch in the future. Educating about the issues of race and the release of a new database of African-American suffragists is in the works. Bringing women’s stories out of the back rooms of historic sites is likely to be a significant direction, as well as major media channels such as A&E looking for suffrage movement content. The descendants of suffrage activists involved in the League of Women Voters, for example, are likely to strengthen the theme of storytelling and the many ways in which the past is linked to the present day. Specific suffrage programs linked to 2020 are still in the planning stages, so we look forward to how a unified theme will develop. It would be productive to sponsor a panel discussion with the same panelists in the future and find out about their specific plans as a way to inspire others.
Will there be funding and a well-defined and funded national momentum that will make the most of the opportunity? Let’s keep this conversation ongoing!
Photo: Courtesy Sewall-Belmont House.Learn More
In recent years, nine states have celebrated their centennials of women winning the vote prior to 1920: Wyoming (1890), Colorado (1893), Utah (1896), Idaho (1896), Washington (1910), California (1911), Arizona (1912), Kansas and Oregon (1912). Montana and Nevada are observing one hundred years of women voting in 2014 with special events, projects and activities. New York’s centennial celebration is scheduled for 2017, with Michigan, Oklahoma and South Dakota to follow.
The United States will celebrate its national centennial of women voting in 2020. At that time more people than ever will be aware of the context of the international suffrage movement following the anticipated release in January 2015 of “Suffragette,” the major motion picture from the UK directed by Sarah Gavron, written by Abi Morgan, and starring Meryl Streep and Carey Mulligan.Learn More