A music video, the “Spirit of 1776: A Suffragette Anthem,” celebrates grassroots activism during Women’s History Month in March. The music video is one of the highlights of the opening of Suffrage Wagon Cafe on March 28th, SWAN Day, an international celebration honoring women artists. Suffrage Wagon Cafe is an online meet-up place dedicated to entertainment and education.
“Americans are making a connection today between their family histories and the larger sweep of American history. The result has been like a jolt of electricity that’s redefining our cultural identity,” Marguerite Kearns explained when speaking about her own suffrage activist grandmother, Edna Kearns, who organized in New York City and on Long Island from 1910 to 1920. “Dry accounts in history books aren’t enough anymore. We want our history alive and relevant.”
With the popularity of programs like “Finding Your Roots” (PBS) and ancestry web sites, a collective memory of women’s history is now possible. This includes the narrative of how one hundred years ago in 1915 women laid an important foundation for voting and civil rights movements in the 20th century.
The anticipated release of the major motion picture “Suffragette” from the UK with Meryl Streep in a starring role is expected to bring the English and American suffrage movements to the attention of a broader segment of the public when the film is released in the fall of 2015. Already there’s speculation about the possibility of an Oscar win for the production.
Women in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts conducted bold campaigns in 1915 that involved thousands of indoor and outdoor meetings, telephone campaigns, lobbying of public officials, parades, and high-profile public relations campaigns. Although none of the referendum initiatives were successful, the extraordinary effort opened the door to the eventual victory and the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution in 1920.
The music video, “The Spirit of 1776,” makes this precedent-setting grassroots organizing effort more accessible to millions of Americans. The “Spirit of 1776” music video to be highlighted at the Suffrage Wagon Cafe is available on YouTube (http://youtu.be/Aga11k5s0Bc).
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