Wednesday, April 6, 2011
• The older I get, the greater power I seem to have to help the world; I am like a snowball -- the further I am rolled the more I gain.~Susan B. Anthony
Today is election day in Wisconsin, an election that has drawn significantly more attention and voter turnout than is typical for municipal or mid-term elections. now matter how controversial, emotionally charged or well publicized, I never go to the polls without mentally thinking of, and thanking, the women who demanded and won the right to vote and run for office.
There were many women who contributed to this cause, perhpas one of the most commonly known is Susan B. Anthony. Although I typically focus on lesser known heroines it is also important to recognize the women who inspire and organize.
Susan B Anthony was born on February 15, 1820 and like most Aquarius, had always been a progressive thinker.
Her parents were Quakers and advocated equal rights and justice, when Susan's teacher refused to teach her long division because of her gender. her parents
removed her from the school and enrolled in a quaker homeschool. Susan went on to become a educator herself and an activist, dedicating much of her life to the anti-slavery and equal rights. movements. in 1872 she was fined 100 dollars for voting, over 50 years before the ratification of the 19th amendment. It is said she never paid the fine.. joined with her friend and fellow activist Elizabeth Cady Stanton, she helped draft the declaration of sentiments in 1848 which was presented 3 days later at the first women's rights convention in Seneca falls new York. the declaration read: We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men and women are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights governments are instituted, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
the declaration, obviously patterned from the declaration of independence, is complete in it's simplicity. it speaks volumes to the power of words, a few well chosen changes creates a document that is inclusive, as well as secular, using the word "creator" instead of 'God" which is often assumed to be the Christian male God.
it took several decades for women to gain the right to vote, the wheels of change turn slowly it seems, but they do turn. during her lifetime Susan must have witnessed enormous strides in social justice. now over 150 years later we still have a long way to go; and there are people who, it appears, would like to have some of that progress reversed thereby maintaining power exclusively in the hands of rich white men.
as we go to the polls today and cast votes for candidates who are women, who are black, latino or working class, we must never forget that the rights were hard won and the result of tireless dedication, education and acts of civil disobedience. complacency breeds stagnation and stagnation leaves us vulnerable to oppression by those who would seek to take advantage of an immobile society. so if you ever feel powerless or insignificant, think back to these women who dared to speak out and to take action in a society where women were literally considered property and please take a moment to thank them for their courage.
For more information on suffrage, Susan B and other topics I highly recommend the women's history project
© 2011 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard