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Marchers brave bitter cold to celebrate women's suffrage and encourage people to vote

Greg Cotterill

About 2,000 people braved bitterly cold temperatures and snow for a rally and march in Seneca Falls on Saturday.

The event was part of three days of activities designed to “inspire all Americans to take an active role in democracy," encourage eligible voters to get out the vote and honor the legacy of women in leadership.

Thousands gathered in cities across the country Saturday as part of the nationwide Women's March rallies that focused on issues such as climate change, pay equity, reproductive rights and immigration. 

It was the 4th year for the march and rally that began at Trinity Park in Seneca Falls, but this year there are more events from Friday through Sunday, as people around the world are celebrating the centennial of the passage of the 19th Amendment which granted women the right to vote, as well as the 200th anniversary of the birth of suffragist leader and former Rochester resident Susan B. Anthony. The Susan B. Anthony museum is also marking its 75th anniversary.

Among those speaking at the rally in Seneca Falls on Saturday was Coline Jenkins, great-great granddaughter of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a leading figure in the early women’s rights movement.

Credit Greg Cotterill
Coline Jenkins, great-great granddaughter of suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

She told the crowd that, “We are on the cusp of amending the U.S. Constitution, not for our right to vote, but for all of the other rights, and Seneca Falls is the epicenter.”

Jenkins was referring to Virginia this past week becoming the 38th state to move to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. Whether the ERA will actually become part of the constitution is facing a likely legal challenge because the deadline set by Congress for ratification of the amendment ran out in 1982, and five states that approved it in the 1970s have since rescinded their support.

Credit Greg Cotterill
Congressman Joe Morelle took part in the march and rally in Seneca Falls on Saturday.

But that did not dampen the enthusiasm of those at the Saturday march in Seneca Falls including Congressman Joe Morelle.  The Democrat who represents the 25th district called on the crowd to “carry on the work of Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Alice Paul and other leaders of the suffrage movement.

Morelle also called on the people at the rally to help bring a change in the White House in this year’s election. There were also some signs carried by people at the rally calling for political change, although the event was billed as “an inclusive, non-partisan 3-day event to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment."

Sunday’s events include the unveiling of a bronze bust of suffragist Alice Paul at 1:00 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church of Seneca Falls and a panel discussion tracing the legacy of women in leadership for social change in America.

WXXI will be producing programs on radio, TV and online at throughout the year to celebrate Rochester's links to the fight for women's rights.

Our coverage will include:

  • A series of television spots telling the story of New York State’s most important contributors to the women’s rights movement
  • National programming from PBS commemorating trailblazers who fought for women’s suffrage in the US
  • Locally produced radio spots focusing on the women who fought for the vote and transformed modern history
  • Connections with Evan Dawson will tackle a number of topics central to 2020 bringing an array of local experts and community leaders together
  • The WXXI News team will be reporting on all the regional activity as well as creating feature stories delving into Rochester’s links to 2020
  • WXXI is planning on several select screenings and discussions at the Little Theatre

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.