Deborah Lindenau in the Susan B. Anthony Square Park. Pepsy Kettavong created a life-size bronze sculpture of suffragist Susan B. Anthony and abolitionist Frederick Douglass conversing over a pot of tea. 8/21/16
I arrived too late yesterday at the 19th Amendent Celebration in the Susan B. Anthony Neighborhood for the speeches and to see Alex White (who you’ve met before) in his 19th century costume Alex annually wears at the event.
Even as the afternoon was winding down, people were still flocking to hear music, take the self-guided tour and meet Susan B. herself.
For three women, Sunday was their first visit to the house. Each excited to celebrate the 96th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment and to learn more about one of their heroes.
From Greece, Deborah Lindenau, 26, just last month returned to Rochester after 5 years working in Brooklyn. Bursting with energy, Deborah is exploring Rochester full tilt. Five years in New York made her appreciate how much Rochester has to offer culturally and aesthetically for a mid-sized city.
Director of Sales at Home2 Suites by Hilton in Henrietta, Deborah has already joined the Chamber of Commerce. In Brooklyn, Deborah ran an events blog What Now, Deb (over 600 views per day, not bad at all) and plans to similarly promote activities and places in Rochester she is discovering and rediscovering.
Deborah’s first stop was the Voter Registration booth as she needed to update her address since moving back.
Inside the house, we looked at the new Voter Education kiosk. Deborah is pointing to the 1920 election, the first where all women could vote nationally.
Before taking the self guided tour, Deborah met Susan B.
While Deborah was on the tour, National Susan B. Anthony Museum & Home Director of Communications Sarah M. Abbamonte showed me some of the photographic archives.
We discussed that, while the 1920 election was the first since the 19th amendment ratification, women voters played a crucial role in the 1916 election of Woodrow Wilson as many states already has passed women’s suffrage laws. New York allowed women to vote in 1917.
According to the kiosk, in 1916 18.5 million women voted (26.8 million would vote in 1920). Historians argue that the women’s vote (as well as the western vote and the Democratic Party’s stance on pacifism) heavily contributed to Wilson’s victory.
At the same time — as seen in the photo — many women did oppose Wilson in 1916 because the Democratic Party’s platform did not favor a national constitutional suffrage amendment
During the tour, Deborah was particularly struck by a quote on Susan B. passing down the torch of women’s equality. Saying she is very proud to be a woman from Rochester, Deborah summed up her experience:
Susan B. Anthony is my biggest inspiration and I know that I can one day become a leading woman in this city, too. Susan B. “passed down the torch” in her very last public speech in 1906 and today, every woman should be prepared to accept that beautiful burning torch and run with it. I know that I am.
Next we had a photo op in the Susan B. Anthony Square Park where Deborah again met Susan, this time having tea with Frederick Douglass. Then Deborah was off and running to her next urban adventure.
During the celebration, Alyssa Rodriguez performed for us on her violin. Actually, Alyssa is a classically trained violinist gone fiddle player. Yesterday, she called herself a “female fledgling fiddling faculty” member of the Kanack School of Music.
Alyssa, 23, was invited to the event by WXXI’s Mona Seghatoleslami. Alyssa says Mona actively supports and promotes young women performers.
Although Alyssa had been to the nearby park, this was her first trip to the museum itself since moving to Rochester a couple of years ago to work for Americorps.
During the visit, Alyssa reflected on the strides women have made and not fully made since gaining the vote in 1920. In Alyssa’s field, women directors and composers are still very much underrepresented. For Alyssa, the passing forward of Susan B.’s torch of equality is the ongoing work of her generation.
And, of course, the occasion called for a photo op with Susan and Frederick in the park.
Near the end of the event, Sarah’s friend Alix Quinn arrived and Sarah gave her a personal tour. This was also Alix’s first visit to the home and museum.Thinking back, Alix was surprised she never came on a field trip when in the Pittsford school system. Sarah says such trips are now part of the museum’s outreach program.
So Alix made her own field trip and found the experience educational and inspiring.
Rochester is lucky to have the National Susan B. Anthony Museum & Home and these young women carrying on the torch.