Monthly Archives: March 2011

Put on a Pair of Kickstarting Boots and Pledge!

I need you to pledge to fund the completion of the film project I started last year. There’s a goal of $5,000 for polishing the editing, adding some more material, and getting the news out into the world. No money changes hands until we’ve reached the goal in early June. A lot of work has gone into this so far. And BTW, the Kickstarter boots are in your size!

Slow Start, But Spirited Movement Forward!

Check out the story on my newest project about my grandmother and the “Spirit of 1776,” her suffrage campaign wagon.

And the newsletter from the Santa Fe chapter of the AAUW which said about the March presentation: “The March branch meeting was one not to miss. We had such a good time. Marguerite Kearns regaled us with tales of her grandmother who was a very active suffragist in New York State. She also had a slide show of artifacts from her grandmother’s life. Gerri Gribi taught us a suffragist song and she also sang several women’s folk songs for us. Talk about steel-willed women! Those Victorian ladies were a force to behold. And we are beholden to them.”

Yeah, Team! On the Road!

It feels good to have affirmation about spreading the story. Yesterday I spoke to about a hundred DOE employees in Albuquerque — a program sponsored by the Federal Women’s Program. The program was terrific. I started out by saying that I suspected history might not have been their favorite subject in school and got them laughing at my past associations in history class: yawning, daydreaming, watching the clock and waiting for the bell to ring. Then I followed up by saying that I didn’t intend to lecture them, but rather instead tell them a story and show them photos about my grandmother and family’s association with my grandmother’s suffrage campaign wagon. My grandmother, Edna Buckman Kearns, is an example of the tens of thousands of women across the U.S. who worked together to win the vote. History is much more interesting with a personal angle. I found this to be especially true when I spoke to high school history students at the New Mexico School for the Arts in late February.

The “Spirit of 1776″

Emmeline Pankhurst addresses crowd in U.S.

English suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst trumpeted the spirit of 1776 in her famous 1913 speech, “Freedom or Death,” when on a speaking tour in the United States: “We found that all the fine phrases about freedom and liberty were entirely for male consumption, and that they did not in any way apply to women. When it was said taxation without representation is tyranny, when it was ‘Taxation of men without representation is tyranny,’ everybody quite calmly accepted the fact that women had to pay taxes and even were sent to prison if they failed to pay them – quite right. We found that ‘Government of the people, by the people and for the people’ . . . was again only for male consumption; half of the people were entirely ignored; it was the duty of women to pay their taxes and obey the laws and look as pleasant as they could under the circumstances. In fact, every principle of liberty enunciated in any civilised country on earth, with very few exceptions, was intended entirely for men, and when women tried to force the putting into practice of these principles, for women, then they discovered they had come into a very, very unpleasant situation indeed.” Entire text of speech.

Passing the Torch: Family tradition to sit in the suffrage wagon

Hana sitting in "Spirit of 1776"

My niece Hana, shown here, represents the fourth generation in my family to sit in the “Spirit of 1776,” my grandmother’s suffrage campaign wagon. It was a tradition in my family to be photographed in the wagon, and it was also a way of passing the torch of story to the next generation. Few summers passed without my mother gathering up us kids, marching us over to my grandfather’s house. He opened the garage door, dragged out grandmother Edna’s suffrage campaign wagon, and my mother took our photos. Of course it took me many years to get to the point where I was ready to pass the torch to the next generation, and it takes many forms. In this podcast, I’m being interviewed about my grandmother by Marzia Dessi, a student at Northern New Mexico College, during February 2011. Marzia’s interested in our history, the woman’s suffrage movement, and how the past relates to young women today. Listen in!

“Stories of Smarts, Tactics, Courage and Stick-to-it-iveness”

Bonnie Smith of Boston, MA says she may not be related to the American suffragists by family, but she’s related “profoundly in spirit.” Bonnie has a great web site worth checking out, an ebook about how to create a women’s history trail in your community, and an enthusiasm that won’t quit.

She says: “I recently gave a walking tour in downtown Boston of women’s history sites for an international group of women economists who were attending a conference at Simmons College. It changed my life, and every talk or tour I have given ever since.

“These women were from all over the world, including parts of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. They asked very specific questions about tactics, how things worked (courts, government, etc.). They wanted to know exactly how people got it done. I suddenly realized that I WAS TALKING TO THE LUCY STONES OF THESE COUNTRIES. They wanted to know tactics and strategy and they need the support of the global female community.

“I believe that we Americans have a special responsibility to support reformers and revolutionaries. . . I believe strongly that ‘our’ stories are inspiring to the world. Despite all of our issues, people do still look to America for inspiration. I would love to see more of ‘our’ suffragists promoted on international sites.”

Bonnie’s perspective on why the story of the 19th amendment isn’t better known is worth checking out: “We still suffer with backlash, with a lack of understanding about the word ‘feminist,’ and with too many people — including the media — promoting the notion that we are in a post-feminist age — which is ridiculous. The big challenge, though, is to teach this information in ways that are inspiring and relevant — to connect the dots to today. All too often, this information is presented in a strident, preachy way and it really doesn’t have to be! These are very inspiring stories of smarts, tactics, courage, and stick-to-it-iveness.”

Visit the web site for Bonnie’s suggestions on how your business can celebrate Women’s History Month.

Remember Your Mothers, Grandmothers. . . NOW!

Add your own personal stories to the fabric of women’s history by going to this website: http://1000memories.com/women-in-history. You can include photos, narratives, and memories of your mothers, grandmothers, and heroines alongside many famous women from history. This special website allows for a collective celebration of women’s history and aims to create a place where current and future generations of women can be inspired by the role of women in history.  The idea is to create a single place where the women important in each of our lives are remembered. When you click on any woman, you can see the richer details of her life in stories and photos.

Did you know that in 1990 President George H. W. Bush first declared March 10 to be Harriet Tubman Day? In 2003, New York State established the holiday.