Susan B. Anthony

Happy 200th birthday to the woman who dared

Feb 15, 2020
Photo courtesy of the Susan B. Anthony Museum & House

Three years before Susan B. Anthony and a small group of women cast their ballots for president in Rochester in 1872 in an audacious act of defiance that jump-started the women’s suffrage movement, she addressed a gathering in Detroit on the cause.

“Susan B. Anthony looked down upon a fair audience at Young Men’s Hall last evening, though the majority went there, just as people every day go into menageries, to see how the animal looked,” was how the Detroit Free Press led its report of the event.

Susan B. Anthony Museum & House / Facebook

Over 1,000 people packed the Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center on Wednesday night for the Susan B. Anthony birthday celebration dinner.

The event commemorates modern women who continue the legacy of the women’s suffrage leader.

Grammy Award-winning producer and activist Tena Clark was this year’s keynote speaker. 

This year, the Susan B. Anthony Museum and House is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. 2020 also marks suffragist Susan B. Anthony’s 200th birthday and the 75th anniversary of the museum.

To mark these historic occasions, the museum has invited music producer, author, and civil rights activist Tena Clark as this year’s keynote speaker for its birthday dinner celebration. Clark has worked with music legends including Aretha Franklin, Natalie Cole, Patti LaBelle, and many more. We talk with her about her career and the impact of women in music, and we have a broader discussion about the state of women’s rights in 2020. Our guests:

  • Deborah Hughes, executive director of the Susan B. Anthony Museum and House
  • Tena Clark, music producer, author, and civil rights activist

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. 

Max Schulte/WXXI News

Organizers say this year, Rochester and the Finger Lakes region will be the center of the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, when the U.S. recognized women's right to vote.

2020 is also the 200th birthday of Susan B. Anthony.  Deborah Hughes, president and CEO of the National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House, says the suffrage leader's work is not a conversation about the past; it remains relevant today when voter access is still an issue.

Susan B. Anthony Museum & House/Facebook

The annual Rose Parade in Pasadena, California included a connection to Rochester on New Year’s Day. Members of the Susan B. Anthony Museum & House took part in one of the floats, and it won an award.

The float called “Years of Hope, Years of Change,” was a call to inspire Americans to remember the women who paved the way for a woman’s right to vote. The float won the 'theme award’ for most outstanding presentation of the Rose Parade Theme. This year’s overall parade theme was The Power of Hope, celebrating the influence of optimism and hope.

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.