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Fringe show 'Suffragettes Unite!' brings words of women's rights leaders back to life

Sep 16, 2019

Among the hundreds of shows in the KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival lineup this week is one called, "Suffragettes Unite!"

The performer is jazz singer Ann Mitchell. She doesn't sing in this show, but speaks the words delivered by suffrage leaders Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and other women, including Sarah C. Owen.

"She was just another woman, like you or myself, that was at the convention,” Mitchell said. “She was part of the movement."

Anthony and Cady Standon were known for their powerful, fiery rhetoric, but Mitchell describes Owen’s oratory style as “sweetly persuasive.”

“Imagine a woman speaking in public in 1848,” Mitchell said. “You really can't imagine that because women didn't do those things; they were at home taking care of their family, and to speak in public was considered inappropriate. It was just not done. And when the women were speaking, there were shouts of men saying, 'Louder! Louder!' and they weren't used to speaking in public, so they didn't have what was called a regular speaking voice."

Click on the LISTEN link above to hear Mitchell read an excerpt from the speech Owen delivered on August 2, 1848 at the First Unitarian Church of Rochester at the second women's rights convention.

"Suffragettes Unite" is part of the Rochester Fringe Festival. It's at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Avyariam at Village Gate. Get tickets at RochesterFringe.com.