You may be aware that it wasn’t until 1920 that women were allowed to vote nationwide, but did you know that New York State passed a suffrage law in 1917?
That’s right. A statewide referendum validated the work of Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and thousands of others (women and men), work that began in earnest in 1848 with women’s rights conventions in Seneca Falls.
There are many events planned in our region to commemorate the centennial, thanks to dozens of partners, and their creativity is shining through. I recently was invited to a breakfast to start planning for making Rochester “The national destination for women’s history tourism and begin planning a community-wide celebration in 2020 of the centennial of the 19th Amendment.” At that breakfast, I also learned about the cornucopia of events planned for the 2017 celebration.
Most exciting to me is the VoteTilla, sponsored by the National Susan B. Anthony Museum and House. The VoteTilla will consist of a caravan of five canal boats, traveling the Erie Canal from Seneca Falls to Rochester from July 17-22. The VoteTilla will make stops in various towns (including Fairport and Pittsford) along the way, where there will be local programs and an opportunity for residents to learn more about women’s suffrage. The VoteTilla culminates with a parade and celebration at the Anthony Museum and House. My heart swells with pride just to think of how women and girls will get to learn about our foremothers and their hard work.
Along with the VoteTilla, another major event is an exhibition commemorating the centennial of the New York State Woman Suffrage Amendment from June 2-Oct. 14 in Hacker Hall in the Rundel Memorial Building of the Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County.
And how amazing is this: Bristol Valley Theatre in Naples is devoting its entire summer season to plays and musicals by female playwrights. First up is Hear Me Roar, described as a “steamy new rock musical of a love triangle gone wrong.” Can’t wait.
Coming up soon is the Rochester Oratorio Society’s free concert “Songs of Suffrage.” It’s at 1 p.m. April 29, also at Hacker Hall in the Rundel building. It sounds way cool to me — songs sung by the suffragists and songs about women suffragists.
You can check out a calendar of events by going to the RocSuffrage website. I also want to give a big shout-out to all the people planning the various events, and especially to the leadership of Christine Ridarsky, Rochester city historian, and Michelle Finn, deputy historian, and Deborah Hughes, president and CEO of the Anthony Museum and House.
So check out the calendar at RocSuffrage and start marking down those dates.