Musing about my Susan B. Anthony speech, plus release of new Alice Paul biography

MKmusingsI’m still working out the details of my Susan B. Anthony speech for the party commemorating the June 19th presentation Susan gave at the Ontario County, NY courthouse. The occasion: her trial for illegal voting in 1873. The courthouse is located in what’s known as the “Cradle” of the women’s rights movement in the United States, not far from Rochester, New York –a great idea for historical road trips this summer.

Susan B. Anthony sure had spirit, and I wrote about it in Suffrage Wagon’s spring newsletter. After describing the upcoming party’s skit planning in the last blog posting, someone wrote in to note that Susan hadn’t actually been handcuffed. She’d held out her hands for handcuffs, but the arresting officer refused to comply before taking her downtown for booking. Many scripts are rewritten during the process. I love the feedback and need all the help I can get in this celebration of spirit.

Be forewarned, however. Susan B. Anthony’s 1873 speech isn’t for the thin skinned. Susan let loose about the injustice of second class citizenship for women. Her words are now included in lists of great American speeches. For someone like Susan B. Anthony to stand tall and give the judge hell must have taken courage and a truckload of chutzpah.

I love the potential surprises associated with Susan’s trial speech. At the 2011 party where I featured Susan’s trial, I invited guests to wear period costumes. One women chose a dress once worn by her grandmother, and others supplemented with hats and scarves. The tea table groaned with freshly-baked sweets. Grandmother Edna’s great-great grandchildren provided the entertainment — live music on violin and viola. I shared about the suffrage project I’ve been doing online since 2009. And then the trial skit. It was so much fun, I decided to do it again this year! I’ll write up the entire play shortly so you can see it doesn’t require a rehearsal, though you might do a test run first.

If you’re planning to send out invitations for a June 19th Susan B. trial speech party, consider attaching this promotional video link. Send me an email at suffragewagon at gmail dot com if you need any encouragement!

Suffrage Wagon BookshelfOn June 2, Publishers Weekly released its review of Jill Zahniser and Amelia Fry’s biography of Alice Paul. It’s a starred review of Alice Paul: Claiming Power by J.D. Zahniser and Amelia R. Fry.

“Zahniser and Fry’s biography shines a bright light on the ‘elusive’ figure of suffragist Alice Paul (1885–1977). A woman whose life bridged the ‘first’ and ‘second waves’ of feminism, Paul was once a towering figure in American suffragist politics, having cut her teeth on the battle for women’s voting rights in Britain. The elegantly constructed narrative combines the filaments of Paul’s precocious life into an incisive tale, beginning with her Quaker upbringing and following her as she emerges as an activist and agitator.

“The book shows how Paul navigated the shoals of propriety, respectability, and the necessity of forthright activist tactics. In addition, Zahniser and Fry (who died in 2009) effectively explore the often forgotten warrens of feminist history and its intersections with world events, including WWI. The authors deserve credit for tackling the issue of racism within the suffrage movement, as well as Paul’s latent prejudices. While showing how Paul became a suffragist, and the battles that defined a generation of fractious feminist activism, the book leaves the rest of her long life, after 1920, to other scholars. This is not only the story of one person, but of her epoch and culture. Zahniser and Fry have done readers a profound service.”

Follow the Suffrage Wagon with news and views of the suffrage movement. Celebrate women’s freedom to vote. Carry on the “Spirit of 1776.” If you’re off on a historical road trip this summer, check in with LetsRockTheCradle.com for suggestions and ideas.

How to Plan a Celebration Honoring Susan B. Anthony’s Trial Speech

PARTY INVITE 2011-5Three years ago I produced my first skit about Susan B. Anthony’s trial. I didn’t feature it on the invitation I circulated, mainly because I wasn’t convinced I could pull it off. I did. And now I’m working on another production for June 19th, the actual day that Susan B. Anthony stood up to the judge and made her position clear about the necessity of women being able to vote.

As far as June 19, 2014 is concerned, the party date has been set and the guests invited. There are spots for three characters:  the arresting officer, the judge, and Susan B. Anthony. The play goes like this. The arresting officer knocks on Susan’s door. She answers. He informs Susan that she’s under arrest and puts on pretend handcuffs. They leave for the police station. Few words. The arresting officer can ad lib.

Then the scene shifts to the courtroom with the judge sitting on a chair. Susan is standing before him. The lines are pretty basic and can read from an index card. The judge tells Susan to sit down and she refuses:

Miss Anthony—”Yes, your honor. I have many things to say. My every right, constitutional, civil, political and judicial has been tramped upon. I have not only had no jury of my peers, but I have had no jury at all.”

Court—”Sit down Miss Anthony. I cannot allow you to argue the question.”

Miss Anthony—”I shall not sit down. I will not lose my only chance to speak.”

In the next scene Susan B. Anthony stands on a raised platform to address the audience where she delivers an edited version of her presentation in the courtroom. She also reads from a script. Susan can be dressed in a period costume, or her costume can be as simple as a black dress. I’ll be wearing a red cape from my closet. Here’s some text from Susan’s speech on video to illustrate that producing a short program for your party isn’t difficult.

Video about Susan B. Anthony’s trial for illegal voting when she gave her speech on June 19, 1873. Follow the Suffrage Wagon or LetsRockTheCradle. Celebrate women’s freedom to vote.

Susan B. Anthony was proud of her crime!

Marguerite's Musings“I’VE GONE AND DONE IT”

This is what Susan B. Anthony told Elizabeth Cady Stanton in a letter after she voted illegally in Rochester, New York in November 1872. 

On Friday, I voted in a county election. When I got home, I thought about Susan’s comment (“I’ve gone and done it”). It’s the perfect time to reflect on this historic occasion as June 19th approaches. June 19th is the anniversary of Susan’s famous speech at the Ontario County courthouse on June 19, 1873. Check out the coverage of June 19th on LetsRockTheCradle. I’m involved in the planning of a party to launch the date of June 19th, the anniversary of Susan B. Anthony’s famous speech. Stay tuned for the details. And while you’re at it, what are you planning for June 19th? Watch the video and consult special links to get you started.

News notes: One hundred years ago Charlie Chaplin released the film “The Militant Suffragette.” Check it out by watching the film online. Women’s Equality Agenda in NYS is up for a second round. Legislation proposed to create a statewide history commission in NYS. Period dramas are being scrutinized by scholars and others on matters as basic as food manners and culture. Example: Jane Austin production on BBC. Fascinating. It may not be directly related to the suffrage movement, but it’s something worth noting.

The state of Montana continues with its excellent online suffrage centennial program, “Women’s History Matters.” A recent posting is about Montana’s first Native American legislator. It’s an excellent example of what Montana offers on a regular basis for its suffrage centennial throughout 2014. No word yet about planning for NYS’s 2017 suffrage centennial. Stay tuned for news and views about the 19th amendment, women’s suffrage, today and in the past!

“Ancestra” is a play running through June 7 in the Gordon Square by the Cleveland Public Theatre. The work was inspired by the 1853 National Women’s Rights Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. Ancestra weaves a historical account with the intimate biography of a contemporary woman. Ancestra’s compelling story provides a forum for intellectual engagement with important issues of our time: gender equity, women’s health care and reproductive rights. Featuring a multi-generational, multicultural cast, this emotionally-charged performance celebrates those who came before and champions current efforts to achieve dignity and justice. I wish I lived closer.

SuffrageCentennials.com is celebrating its first birthday in June 2014.  Follow the Suffrage Wagon for updates. News and views of the suffrage movement that celebrate women’s freedom to vote.

May 29th

May 29, 1851: Sojourner Truth delivers her infamous “Ain’t I A Woman?” speech to the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention.

 

Loving dress ups and reminder about June 19th

Do you love dress ups like I do? Suffrage blogger Antonia Petrash spent an afternoon at a vintage clothes shop on Long Island and blogged about the experience. I dressed in my grandmother Edna’s dresses at about age ten. Here’s what I wrote about the experience: “Bonded from wearing Grandmother Edna Kearns’ dresses.”Grand Rapids centennial suffrage edition

In recent news items: The Grand Rapids Press recently featured a centennial edition in honor of an edition of the paper dedicated to the topic 100 years ago. Edna Kearns was one such suffrage editor for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, so it’s noteworthy that newspaper publishers back then recognized how increased circulation could result from covering topics of interest such as Votes for Women and the hard work of tens of thousands of suffragists. Update on the controversy associated with the creation of a national women’s history museum.

Over four years ago at the launching of Suffrage Wagon News Channel, suffrage news and events generally were anniversary related. Now, the topic is hot year round. Well, “suffrage” is yet to become a household word, but we’re making progress.

Do you have a special event for June scheduled in your active calendar? How about a party on or about June 19th to honor suffragist Susan B. Anthony’s trial for illegal voting. Put together a program for your party with little effort. Just consult the trial record and hand out a script to your friends.  Watch a new video for inspiration. 

Suffrage history has been ignored for so many decades, it’s fascinating to see the movement finally entering the national spotlight, even if in an uneven fashion. It’s likely to continue this way as the 2016 presidential election approaches when it seems likely that a woman will run for the nation’s highest elected position. The marginality of the subject matter could shift dramatically in January 2015 with the release of the major motion picture, “Suffragette,” now in production in the UK. Stay tuned for updates.

Follow Suffrage Wagon News Channel for news and views of the suffrage movement. Celebrate women’s freedom to vote. If you’re feeling feisty and restless when standing on the strong shoulders of those who have come before us, touch into LetsRockTheCradle.com

Will new developments in Albany, New York (Including Kathy Hochul) impact the state’s 2017 suffrage centennial?

MusingWagonTourism development is big at the White House. And the incumbent NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo chose a running mate for reelection (Kathy Hochul) that reportedly has upstate New York’s economic development in mind.

Maybe, just maybe this will translate into support and recognition for women’s history, rocking the cradle. and the importance of starting NOW to plan for the 2017 state suffrage centennial and the 2020 national suffrage centennial. Let’s get the “Spirit of 1776″ suffrage wagon back on the road again in exhibitions. And this week we’re continuing with the Suffrage Wagon Film Festival that features news and views of the suffrage movement through YouTube specials.

(1.) “The Vote: Choose it and use it” is a video reminding women voters today of the importance of finding out about the suffrage movement and how to honor the hard work of our ancestors today.

(2.) “Suffrage Centennials: Events and News” highlights why following the Suffrage Wagon is a good idea to stay up to date on news and views of the suffrage movement.

(3.) “Having Trouble Keeping up with Votes for Women News and Stories” features vintage photos of women from the turn of the 20th century. A little different spin on the topic.

Follow the Suffrage Wagon. Celebrate women’s freedom to vote.

When on the road, videos make a great posting!

Tea for Two at Suffrage Wagon News ChannelWarm weather already and postings aren’t as easy out on the road. Five entire days without even a glance at email. You may have missed the following short video pieces, but here’s a rerun to inspire checking in with the Suffrage Wagon by way of email, Twitter, and Facebook.

(1.) “Carry on the ‘Spirit of 1776′ by following the Suffrage Wagon” highlights why others consider Suffrage Wagon News Channel as a “go to” place for news and views of the suffrage movement.

(2.) “A Flight into the Unknown: Subscribe to Suffrage Wagon News Channel” is a reminder about the importance of carrying on the “Spirit of 1776.”

(3.) “Happy Fourth Birthday, Suffrage Wagon News Channel” highlights the four and a half years that the suffrage multi-media news channel has been featuring news and view of the suffrage movement.

Celebrate women’s freedom to vote by following Suffrage Wagon News Channel.