Passing the torch at the Susan B. Anthony House

Passing the torch at the Susan B. Anthony House

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 SusanBAnthony-19thAmendCelebration_FLYER-Rev5-PROOFNeighborhood for the speeches and to see Alex White (who you’ve met before) in his 19th century costume Alex annually wears at the event.

susan b with kids

(l-r) Donna, Shelley, Susan, Austin, Muchima. Shelley was visiting from Moscow, Idaho. She says there’s a lot more to do in Rochester than in Moscow. 8/21/16

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. registering to voteFive years in New York made her appreciate how much Rochester has to offer culturally and aesthetically for a mid-sized city.

IMG_4148Director 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.

Deb with Susan B.

Deborah’s first stop was the Voter Registration booth as she needed to update her address since moving back.

Sarah with Susan

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.

in archives new

Photo: Sarah Abbamonte

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.


‘Women of Colorado, you have the vote’ Anti-Wilson billboard urging opposition

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.

with fred douglass

Photo: Deborah 8/21/16

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.

Alyssa Rodriguez 8/21/16

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.

Sarah Abbomante (left) and Alix Quinn 8/21/16

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.

SEE ALSO On the Other Side: a montage of Rochester’s resting places. And Susan B. Anthony’s gravesite on Election Day.

Susan B. Anthony’s gravesite on Election Day and the day after

Emerging artists coming of age in Rochester at the Corn Hill Arts Festival

About The Author

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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