WXXI AM News

Susan B. Anthony

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."

Beth Adams / WXXI News

Two local women are using a yarn installation to create a thread from Rochester's social activism past to today.

Today, Corinthian Street near the intersection of State and Main streets is nothing more than a hotel parking lot.  But in the mid-19th century, it was the site of Corinthian Hall, where crowds gathered to hear social activists like Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony speak.

Author Jane Plitt worries that Martha Matilda Harper's remarkable story has been lost to history.

"Her story needs to be held up in the same way that George Eastman is," said Plitt, "as a representative of using business for social change."

Harper, with the help of her intelligence, determination, and floor-length hair, rose from the servant class to worldwide entrepreneur, and her rags-to-riches story started in Rochester.

In 1888, the same year George Eastman unveiled the Kodak camera, Harper, a Canadian immigrant, opened her beauty shop in the Powers Building.

Beth Adams/WXXI News

The newest in the fleet of tugboats on the Erie Canal was christened Friday in honor of women’s suffrage leader Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

In the 19th century, the canal was like the interstate highway of the day. It was frequently the path traveled between Seneca Falls and Rochester as Cady Stanton and her fellow suffragists coordinated their campaign for women’s rights.

At Friday morning's dedication at Corn Hill Landing in Rochester, Cady Stanton's great-great-granddaughter, Coline Jenkins, said tugboats are a metaphor for the life's work of her historic ancestor.

The annual Susan B. Anthony Luncheon set for later this month will welcome Dr. Irma McClaurin as its keynote speaker. McClaurin is a feminist anthropologist and author who writes about race, diversity, and social justice.

We preview her presentation with a conversation about the value of diversity, how to find bonds of commonality, and how to better understand – and eliminate – social disparities. Our guests:

This week in 1872, suffragist Susan B. Anthony illegally voted in the presidential election. Two weeks later, she was arrested and fined $100.

On this Election Day, we reexamine this moment in history and ask ourselves what lessons we can learn. What would Susan B. Anthony say to people not planning to exercise their right to vote? Our guests:

One hundred years ago, it wasn't a foregone conclusion that the 19th Amendment would survive. It came down to Tennessee, which became a kind of battleground. Some of the biggest figures of the time fought for and against suffrage.

Author Elaine Weiss details the struggle in her new book The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote. Weiss will be the keynote speaker for the Susan B. Anthony Birthday Luncheon in Rochester.

She joins us to discuss her book, and we address other issues related to equality in modern times. Our guests:

The Agitators tells the story of sometimes-difficult friendship between Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony. Both wanted equality; on occasion their work pitted themselves against each other.

The production at Geva involves only two cast members, and tracks their remarkable 45-year relationship. It's a history lesson that feels more important than ever today. Our guests:

Sasha-Ann Simons, WXXI News

Thousands of committed voters have each been waiting upwards of 90 minutes at Mount Hope Cemetery to get a closer look at the grave belonging to Susan B. Anthony.

Visitors from near and far are paying respects to the pioneer on Election Day and leaving behind their “I Voted Today” stickers on her headstone.

Judy Henderson, of Rochester, said her two daughters who currently live in Boston and San Francisco, returned home and insisted the family make a stop at the cemetery. 

Juan Vazquez / WXXI

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren has extended the hours of operation at Mount Hope Cemetery on Election Day, so people can visit the grave of Susan B. Anthony.

There has already been a steady stream of visitors – some from out of state - to Anthony's grave site in recent days. They've left flowers, notes and 'I Just Voted' stickers.

Deborah Hughes, executive director of at the Susan B. Anthony House and Museum, says in a year when two women are on the presidential ballot in most states, many people feel a very real emotional connection to the work of the suffragist leader.

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