Special podcast series for Seneca Falls, NY Convention Days in July

Watch for podcast updates and special events in July.

Update on Susan B. party, “Suffragette”film, and new Prudence Crandall book

Susan B. Anthony PartyHere’s the basket, ready to go for last Thursday’s Susan B. Anthony party! The play was a hit and marked my niece Tara’s birthday on June 19th, and conveniently Susan B. Anthony’s trial commemoration as well.

What fun!

SusanBAnthony2There’s other news too. “Suffragette,” the major motion picture from the UK has completed filming and is on its way to release. The public relations team calls it “a thrilling drama that tracks the story of the foot soldiers of the early feminist movement, women who were forced underground to pursue a dangerous game of cat and mouse with an increasingly brutal state. These women were not primarily from the genteel educated classes; they were working women who had seen peaceful protest achieve nothing. Radicalized and turning to violence as the only route to change, they were willing to lose everything in their fight for equality – their jobs, their homes, their children and their lives. Maud was one such foot soldier. The story of her fight for dignity is as gripping and visceral as any thriller; it is also heart-breaking and inspirational.”

The New York State Legislature has closed up shop for this session. One bill addressing the creation of a suffrage centennial commission was introduced in the Senate in late May without any action. For more information.

Suffrage Wagon BookshelfPrudence Crandall’s Legacy: The Fight for Equality in the 1830s, Dred Scott, and Brown v. Board of Education by Donald E. Williams Jr. 470 pp. 6 x 9″ $35.00 Jacketed Cloth, 978-0-8195-7470-1 $27.99 Ebook, 978-0-8195-7471-8. Publication Date: June 2014.

Prudence CrandallPrudence Crandall was the Connecticut schoolteacher who educated African-American girls in the 1830s. Today, she is Connecticut’s official state heroine. All hell broke loose when she opened Miss Crandall’s School for Young Ladies and Little Misses of Color in Canterbury. Residents of the town refused to supply Crandall with goods necessary to run her school, and even went so far as to sabotage her efforts by poisoning the school’s well water. Crandall was ridiculed and finally arrested, but she only closed the school when it became clear that her students’ safety was at risk.

The year 2014 marks the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, as well as the 30th anniversary of the operation of the Prudence Crandall Museum in Canterbury, Connecticut. 

Follow the Suffrage Wagon. Different options for staying in touch.

Marguerite’s reminders about June 19th, plus Susan B. Anthony resources

Marguerite's MusingsI love the ongoing discussion about Susan B. Anthony on this blog and the implications of what it must have been like for Susan to devote her life to the vote. Today we can take on challenges, like Susan did, that are meaningful (and even have fun) while making a difference.

How would Susan respond to this free-spirited poem presented recently about our suffrage activist ancestors at a Slam Poetry event? Check out “Suffragette 69″ and smile –just when you thought there couldn’t possibly be any new angles relative to this part of American history.

Susan B. Anthony’s networking and advocacy energized her. When I took a bus trip last fall with Friends of the Susan B. Anthony Museum & House, one point was brought to my attention –about how Susan took “power walks” around her neighborhood on early mornings. I loved hearing all about Susan, the activist, the sister, the family member, the cook, the human being, and so much more. Getting inside the personal lives of our suffrage ancestors involves getting to know them as people, as well as heroic historic figures. That’s why I love doing this work!

Susan B. Anthony’s June 19, 1873 speech can be found in lists of great American oratory. If you sign up for a speech class, there’s a possibility Anthony’s presentation may be referred to as a way to learn about the structure of powerful presentations. I’m looking forward to playing Susan today at a  birthday party. For the past week or so I’ve been setting aside a few items: a long dress, hat, cape, plus an edited version of her speech. It’s great fun to add a skit to a birthday celebration.

Susan B. Anthony resources: Short video introducing Susan’s trial speech for illegal voting on June 19, 1873. Audio selection (three minutes) about Susan B. Anthony’s famous 1873 trial speech from Doris Stevens’ book, “Jailed for Freedom.” A feature story about Barbara Blaisdell who has been interpreting Susan B. Anthony for the past 23 years for groups, organizations and for special occasions. My appeal to friends about the importance of making June 19th and Susan B. Anthony’s trial speech a national observance.  New book about Anna Howard Shaw, and author Trisha Franzen, makes argument about Shaw (video included) being “true heir to Susan B. Anthony” and attempts to separate fact from fiction. Visit the Susan B. Anthony Museum and House in Rochester, NY.

June 19th is not only the date when Susan B. Anthony gave her now famous speech at the Ontario County courthouse near Rochester, New York. It’s also a celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. The suffrage and antislavery movements were intricately connected, and this is definitely reflected in the wide range of events that can be accessed in the LetsRockTheCradle.com calendar. The Cradle site is a recognized resource destination and online community for events, historic sites, action campaigns, movement stories, and the many ways the past inspires our actions today!

The news notes shared here are by no means a representative sampling of what’s available online. But they give me an opportunity to keep up to date, and point out some noteworthy content I found online. For example, here’s an article about five commentators who still are angry about the fact that women won the right to vote in 1920. Link. Seneca Falls, NY will be the birthplace of a Muslim women’s rights declaration in July of 2014. Link. A conference in Detroit during July features women and their role in the Underground Railroad. Link. June 19th and a celebration about the end of slavery. Link. An overview of “male feminism.” Link. Observations on the stalemate concerning the governor’s Women’s Equality Agenda in the NYS Legislature. Link. Women and Canadian elections. Link.

Follow the Suffrage Wagon for news and views of the suffrage movement.

If Barbara Blaisdell plays Susan B. Anthony for 23 years, when does she BECOME Susan?

Susan B. Anthony todayIt’s amazing that one person, Barbara Blaisdell, has been delighting fans of Susan B. Anthony for the past 23 years by showing up at events and special occasions in the Rochester, New York area, as well as other venues around the state and nation. She’s spoken on numerous occasions to groups large and small, presented convention keynotes,  and has been a special guest at luncheons and teas where guests have found her portrayal of Anthony intriguing. I love the fact that Blaisdell even had a starring role in a staging of Susan B. Anthony’s trial speech at the Ontario County courthouse not far from Rochester, NY years ago. June 19th is this coming week, folks, and there’s still time to give Susan’s trial speech observance some recognition with a party and spread the fun around.

“My outfit is historically accurate,” Barbara Blaisdell says, and she describes it as a “re-creation of Anthony’s dress displayed in the Museum/House. I also wear a hat, red shawl and carry an alligator bag to stay in character throughout the portrayal and engage in questions and answers whenever appropriate. Bringing the story of the country’s (the world’s) most legendary civil rights and women’s rights leader to so many people has been and continues to be my passion.”

Visit the Susan B. Anthony Museum & House in Rochester, NY and you may meet Susan B. Anthony aka Barbara Blaisdell during tours or special events. These are occasions when Blaisdell takes her role seriously as Susan herself would have responded to certain questions and comments. It’s surprising that some still have the impression of Susan having been grumpy and blunt. “Many people don’t know that Susan B. Anthony had a sense of humor. She wasn’t a gruff old bat, and many people don’t know that she liked to cook, garden, invite people over for a meal and visit. She loved children, and in my mind was an amazing person. Susan B. Anthony sacrificed her own personal life so she could fight the good fight.”

Follow the Suffrage Wagon for news and views of the suffrage movement.

 

More about dressups and the Susan B. skit

Marguerite's Musings: Plays and dressups aren’t the big activity these days that they might have been in years past before film and TV took over the lion’s share of entertainment.

I remember how much fun it was to write a script for a play, cast the performers (usually my sister and brothers), and invite my parents to the grand production. The excitement is still there thought, all these years later, and the result is more of a flash in the pan production of Susan B. Anthony’s 1873 trial at the Ontario County Courthouse.

Years  ago I wasn’t so conscious of people’s short attention spans, so now the skit about Susan B. Anthony’s speech to the judge and her refusal to sit down in the courtroom is more about drama, principle and spirit than recreating the trial intact with vintage costumes. The key is to keep the production short and fun, yet make the point of the event’s significance.

Follow LetsRockTheCradle.com to find out about the Ontario County courthouse located in the Finger Lakes region of New York. Follow the Suffrage Wagon for news and views of the suffrage movement.

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.