Tag Archives: Women’s History

Remembering Toshi Seeger: Marguerite’s Musings

by Marguerite Kearns

Toshi SeegerToshi Seeger, AKA Pete Seeger’s wife and working partner, is no longer with us, but her memory lives. Last year I sent a card to the Seeger family to say that I had a tree planted in El Salvador in Toshi’s memory.

For the ten years I worked at Hudson River Sloop Clearwater in the Hudson Valley, Toshi Seeger was a permanent fixture in the Poughkeepsie, NY building serving as office and headquarters. I gathered news, features, and photos, and with graphic designer Nora Porter, we published the organization’s bi-monthly publication.  Toshi arrived at the office after hours often to iron out the details of the Great Hudson River Revival, the summer organizational fundraiser that kept the sloop sailing on the Hudson. Before she retired, everyone understood all the different ways in which Toshi’s tender loving care made the event possible for upwards of 20,000 people each summer. So with all the attention on Pete Seeger’s death in January 2014, I’ve been thinking of Toshi and how he and family members must have missed her in the months following her death.

Toshi had her fingers in many pies. She made the Husdon River Sloop Clearwater engine run. Pot lucks represented the grassroots engine, and for many organizational and business meetings, the chances were good that a pot luck accompanied the gathering, plus great desserts and song.

I can see Toshi Seeger now carrying heavy shopping bags of food and supplies from the car to the building where we met. That’s why the Suffrage Wagon web site features recipes from the Suffrage Wagon Cooking School as a way to reinforce the point that food fuels activism and relationship. Food and pot lucks represent the physical manifestation of a grassroots strategy of bringing people together for hard work, relaxation and celebration. Toshi understood the connection, and she kept the awareness sharp and clear during her many years of being involved in the heart of the organization. No one could call Toshi Seeger invisible. She was and remains a rock permanently installed on the banks of the Hudson River. Today I’m remembering her unique role in keeping hope alive.

Pete and Toshi Seeger supported the “Spirit of 1776″ suffrage wagon and the importance of New York State putting it on permanent exhibit for now and future generations. Support our campaign of getting the suffrage wagon out on the road again so people can see it. More information available on Suffrage Wagon News Channel.

Photo: Toshi Seeger, 1985. Photo by Marguerite Kearns.

Will “Suffragette” film win Oscar for Meryl Streep & new life for women’s history?

article-2580165-1C425C4700000578-184_306x700The filming’s continuing for “Suffragette,” the UK film and already there’s speculation about whether or not Merly Streep will win an Oscar for her role as Mrs. Pankhurst in the production. Not only that, but there’s a powerful media machine handing the film’s photos and press releases. More than 30 photos have been released to whet the public’s appetite for what’s to come. And don’t you just love those period costumes?

This is good for the suffrage movement and the public’s awareness of it as an important time in our history, though I suspect it will take some time for these influences to manifest. Ask people on the street about what they know about the suffrage movement. They’re either never heard of it, or their eyes glaze over. What? They’ll probably tell you that women’s history wasn’t covered back in their school days of old. The times, they are a’changing with an increasing number of suffrage history fans. The growing interest hasn’t yet reached the awareness of the mainstream of women voters.

Some politicians realize they need women voters to win elections, but they may not be so enthusiastic about women voters becoming excited by learning about their history. If so, they might be more inclined to vote for women political candidates and not for the men who claim to be standing up for women. This would be a switch, wouldn’t it? So meanwhile there’s plenty of lip service about women’s issues, but God forbid that women  voters start getting the point that it took 72 years from 1848 to 1920 for American women to win the vote, including the fact that the U.S. had one woman, a New Yorker, (Inez Milholland) die for the right to cast one’s vote.

More events and articles are posted on the internet about the suffrage movement than there’s time to read and stay current. So, the “Suffragette” film from the UK  is expected to place suffrage subject matter square in the faces of the American public starting in January 2015 when the film’s scheduled for release. Try a few links, including an interview with Carey Mulligan. And another piece featuring Carey Mulligan and her role in suff film. The media machine has been sending out great photos of the period production.

Follow the Suffrage Wagon for news and views of the suffrage movement. Stay current on the progress of the “Suffragette” film in production and remember that you read about it on Suffrage Wagon News Channel.

 

 

National women’s museum in Washington, DC might actually happen! Plus Suffrage Wagon videos.

Suffrage Wagon News NotesA women’s history museum in the nation’s Capitol is closer than ever to reality, as the U.S. Congress moved closer to approving the planned institution on the National Mall. Earlier proposals relied on public funding, but the recent proposal involving private funding brought the idea out of the shadows and into the sunlight of possibility. The museum has been an online nonprofit organization for the past 17 years.

House Republicans just may get in line since it won’t cost the public anything. Considerable effort has been invested in giving women’s history a nod. It’s the same legislative body that’s been sitting on the eggs of other important women’s history proposals such as funding for the Harriet Tubman national park and the “Votes for Women” heritage trail in the “Cradle” of the U.S. women’s rights movement in the Finger Lakes region of New York State. The next phase of the project involves selecting a site for the museum and hiring a woman architect to move the proposed museum forward. All the other buildings on the mall have been designed by men.

Check in with the Suffrage Wagon News Channel video offerings. More than 30 videos have been posted over the past few years. For  suffrage movement news and views, follow the Suffrage Wagon on Twitter, Facebook, email subscription, and a quarterly newsletter. Check in with the LetsRockTheCradle calendar of  suffrage-related events.

Male suffragist dresses as a woman, Inez Milholland Festival 2014 and other news notes

Inez Milholland Festival 2014SideInezThe rocking of the “Cradle” of the women’s rights movement moves forward, whether or not New York State has this important centennial on its “to do” list. Mark your calendar for August 16-17 for the Inez Milholland Festival 2014 that will be held in the Champlain Valley in the Adirondacks. LetsRockTheCradle.com is the “go to” place for upcoming announcements of the two-day program.

“Male suffragist dresses as a woman” is a headline that’s certainly to get some attention. Great musical video of the Corrs sisters singing “The Long and Winding Road” demonstrates the power of combining women’s issues with music and bringing attention to African women. Online link. Another cool story about a suffrage quilt. Huffington Post has article about the lessons learned from suffragist Anna Howard Shaw. Many new New York History blog contributors wrote about women’s history during March, Women’s History Month. New  York women and their contributions to the Adirondacks. Ken Florey’s book on suffrage memorabilia reviewed. The Missouri Women’s Network Education Fund launched its 1,000 Strong Campaign to raise $10,000 for the bust of St. Louis suffragist Virginia Minor to join the collection of bronze memorialized Missourians.

Follow Suffrage Wagon News Channel for news and views of the suffrage movement. Celebrate women’s freedom to vote.

What happens after Downton Abbey? and other women’s history gems

Downton-Abbey-Season-4Some people swear by Downton Abbey. Others are yawning and wondering if the series will take on more life than reruns of the same themes, issues and personalities. Like the novelty of the chauffeur marrying into the family has worn off, and the family is adjusting, though slowly, to the end of a way of life. That’s why I found the following article refreshing and worth sharing, even if the link has been sitting on my desk since January.

What happens after Downtown Abbey, the article asks. Writer Alyssa Rosenberg isn’t interested in breathing life into the Downtown Abbey cast. She’s suggesting that the family be replaced with some real-life characters, and I love her suggestions. How about the Pankhurst family of suffragettes in England or the Mitfords? Rosenberg lists the reasons why.

MK-musing

What did one cherub say to the other one in this thumbnail image? They’re whispering, so it’s not easy to listen. But let’s try anyway. One cherub’s asking the other: “What do we have to do to shake a substantial commitment out of New York State for the state suffrage centennial in 2017 that gets the same attention and excitement as the funding of ads for wineries and white water rafting?” The other cherub responds: “How about a sloop called the Susan B. Anthony that sails down the Hudson River and visits every port and school classroom? Would that get attention or what? If there are Clearwater and Woody Guthrie boats, how about Susan or Elizabeth or Alice or Carrie or Harriot or any one of a long list of candidates to represent the state’s rich women’s history?”

Where’s Pete Seeger when we need him? Toshi and Pete Seeger would say they modeled grassroots organizing for decades in New York’s Hudson Valley, so it’s our turn to get busy.  Is voting important anyway? Many would say it’s an essential expression of our rights as citizens. Perhaps that’s what’s behind the numerous attempts to suppress voting nationwide. In any event, the suffrage movement represents the largest nonviolent social revolution in the U.S. Whenever I wrap my head around that fact, it shifts my awareness of the significance of keeping democracy alive, whatever’s left of it after big money dumped into political campaigns clears the stage.

So if you’re suspecting I’m growing anxious about the passage of precious time when New  York should be busy planning its 2017 suffrage centennial, you’re right. There’s plenty of lip service spread around for women’s issues. And as the suffragists used to say, “deeds, not words” carry the day. Send us an email with your thoughts about how to get New York off of Ground Zero and busy planning its centennial. Send me your thoughts: suffragewagon at gmail.com

Looking forward to hearing from you as the Suffrage Wagon rolls on. Follow the wagon by way of email, Twitter and Facebook. And while you’re at it, visualize the State of New York putting the “Spirit of 1776″ suffrage campaign wagon on permanent exhibit. It’s not doing any good gathering dust at a state museum warehouse near Albany, NY.

 

A legacy trip in the “Cradle” of the Women’s Rights Movement, plus other news

Edna on a horseThe New York History Blog featured women’s stories during March 2014, Women’s History Month. It’s a platform that welcomes news of suffrage-related events, histories and news. Check out some of the offerings, and if you aren’t following the New York History Blog, get on board.

More baby steps in the long process to win approval for the National Women’s History Museum. All members of the House Administration Committee voted in support of HR 863, this week that will move the National Women’s History Museum legislation forward. Committee Chair Candice Miller (R-MI), Ranking Member Robert Brady (D-PA), and Committee Members Phil Gingrey (R-GA) and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) spoke in support of creating a commission to produce a feasible plan for a privately-funded national women’s history museum. The bill passed out of the Committee without amendments, the first step to obtaining bill passage in the House of Representatives. The House Natural Resources Committee will consider the bill next.

A four-day, three-night Susan B. Anthony Legacy Trip is scheduled from August 4 through 7, 2014, “Be Part of Her Story” includes an in-depth and behind-the-scenes exploration of Susan B. Anthony’s life, her friends and family, her times and causes, her lifetime struggle to achieve equality for everyone. Organized by The Friends of Susan B. Anthony Museum and House, the trip includes three nights lodging in a downtown Rochester hotel, transportation to all venues, seminars on topics related to the suffrage movement with experts in their fields, travel around the historic Finger Lakes region, and visits to Rochester sites of importance to the Anthonys and suffrage. The trip is limited to 40, so sign up soon! National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House, 17 Madison Street, Rochester, NY 14608.

Follow LetsRockTheCradle.com for upcoming events, action campaigns, and featured historic sites in the “Cradle” of the women’s rights movement in the United States. In other news: There’s a new Facebook page about Matilda Joslyn Gage. The Finger Lakes Museum has appointed a new director.

Follow Suffrage Wagon for news and views of our suffrage history. 

Bonnie Smith’s tips on being interviewed about important subjects: Women’s History Month special

Bonnie Smith's tips for being interviewedBonnie Smith is nuts about history and how it can drive your business, your important causes and organizations. She has been passionate about this subject matter for years and understands that getting out the word is essential. The suffrage activists at the turn of the 20th were extremely sophisticated about the importance of the news media, and this was a new platform for the nation. Are you about to be interviewed by a reporter? It can be a bit unnerving, but here are some tips Bonnie believes will help.

* Don’t wing it! In spite of how much you know your subject, during the interview you won’t remember everything. Write down the key points you want to make, print them out, and hold the sheet of paper in front of you.

Think about the questions the reporter will ask and be prepared. There’s the specific subject of the interview, but there’s also context, information about you and/or your company, something about your own history or the history of your organization. really think it through.

An example: One of Bonnie’s clients knew Pope John Paul II, and he will be interviewed in April when the Pope is canonized. She prepared interview sheets for her client that include a chronology of his relationship with the Pope (dates and what happened when), bullet points about the Pope’s life and career, and quotes that my client has given over the years to newspapers. He will be prepared.

Your goal is to appear knowledgeable about your subject and self confident. Be prepared!

* Stand up when you talk to the reporter. It sounds simple, but people sound more alert and self confident when they speak standing up vs. sitting down!

* Get rest, go for a walk, whatever helps you be at your alert best.

* Try to be interviewed at the time of day that works best for you. See if you can work with the reporter to arrange your interview during the best time of day for you.

* Do NOT have a glass of wine or anything else to “relax you.” Believe it or not some people do this, and it’s a bad idea. It shows.

What else puts you in a good mood? Do it! You want to come across as happy and, again, self confident and knowledgeable.

Check out Bonnie’s web site and get on her email list. Make sure you hear about her latest projects and books!