New York State has two national parks now in the Finger Lakes region, what many people refer to as the “Cradle” of the women’s rights movement in the United States. The news concerning recent Congressional approval and funding of the Harriet Tubman national park gives a huge boost to everyone interested in the upcoming New York State suffrage centennial celebration in 2017, as well as the national suffrage centennial in 2020.
New York City has made a huge leap already in terms of preparing for the state’s 2017 suffrage centennial. Tracy Penn Sweet is the program director for the Women’s Suffrage Centennial in New York City. Her job is to develop a five-year plan to prepare for the 2020 national suffrage centennial. There’s also planning activity in the Rochester, NY area, plus many busy activists in New York City, Long Island and around the state, as well as a 2017 statewide conference in the the final stages of organization. We’ll let you know as soon as the information is available.
Over the past year various historic coalitions and ad hoc citizen groups in New York State have been discussing the possibilities inherent in preparing for such important future observances. Special projects are in the early stages of discussion and organization and people are spreading the word enough to stir plenty of interest. The committee supporting the statue proposed for Central Park statue in NYC of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony just set up its web site. And there’s more to come from organizations large and small on the local, state, and national levels.
Will the State of New York weigh in on any of this? It’s hard to tell. The best possible case would include state funding, promotion and support services for upcoming suffrage centennials because of the economic development and tourism potential. There’s considerable support on the grassroots for early planning and preparation. Over the next few weeks we’ll follow up with more about national initiatives in support of the 2020 centennial observance of the passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. There’s activity on the national level in support of 2020, including plans to complete a national suffrage memorial in Lorton, Virginia, 2020 ceremonies in Philadelphia, support groups and special interest coalitions and communications that are visualizing what’s possible and then taking the next step. Stay tuned!