A music video, “Spirit of 1776: A Suffragette Anthem,” celebrates grassroots activism during Women’s History Month in March. The music video will be one of the highlights of the opening of Suffrage Wagon Cafe on March 28th, SWAN Day, an international celebration honoring women artists. Suffrage Wagon Cafe is an online meet-up place dedicated to entertainment and education.
“Americans are making a connection today between their family histories and the larger sweep of American history. The result has been like a jolt of electricity that’s redefining our cultural identity,” Marguerite Kearns explained when speaking about her own suffrage activist grandmother, Edna Kearns, who organized in New York City and on Long Island from 1910 to 1920. “Dry accounts in history books aren’t enough anymore. We want our history alive and relevant.”
With the popularity of programs like “Finding Your Roots” (PBS) and ancestry web sites, a collective memory of women’s history is now possible. This includes the narrative of how one hundred years ago in 1915 women laid an important foundation for voting and civil rights movements in the 20th century.
“When we observe the centennial of 1915’s suffrage organizing, we’re filling in a missing part of American history,” Kearns continued. “If a woman candidate runs for the U.S. Presidency in 2016, the story of how women won the vote will receive more public attention than ever. Winning the franchise in the U.S. took 72 years from 1848 to 1920. It occupied the attention of generations of women.”
Marguerite Kearns documents her grandmother’s passage through time on a web platform Suffrage Wagon News Channel (SuffrageWagon.org) that has been publishing since 2009. The anticipated release of the major motion picture “Suffragette” from the UK with Meryl Streep in a starring role is expected to bring the English and American suffrage movements to the attention of a broader segment of the public when the film is released in the fall of 2015.
You aren’t alone if you haven’t heard much about the U.S. suffrage movement and the 1915 women’s suffrage campaign in four eastern states. This is changing, in part because of the efforts of Marguerite Kearns, a writer and editor whose grandmother was one of the thousands of American woman suffrage activists who worked nonstop during 1915. They organized from dawn to dusk in the belief that state campaigns could turn the tide and win women the right to vote. The final victory nationwide, however, had to wait until 1920 with the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
“By observing and honoring the 2015 suffrage campaigns, we’re also getting ready for 2020, the national suffrage centennial when American woman will have been voting for 100 years,” Kearns added.
Women in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts conducted bold campaigns in 1915 that involved thousands of indoor and outdoor meetings, telephone campaigns, lobbying of public officials, parades, and high-profile public relations campaigns. Although none of the referendum initiatives were successful, the extraordinary effort opened the door to the eventual victory and the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution in 1920. The music video, “The Spirit of 1776,” makes this precedent-setting grassroots organizing effort more accessible to millions of Americans, Kearns said.
The “Spirit of 1776” music video to be highlighted at the Suffrage Wagon Cafe is available on YouTube (http://youtu.be/Aga11k5s0Bc).
Suffrage Wagon News Channel (suffragewagon.org) and Suffrage Centennials (suffragecentennials.com) are partners in the Women’s History Month celebrations during March. They are working toward increasing public awareness in the upcoming centennial celebrations in New York State in 2017 and the nation in 2020.
Suffrage Wagon Cafe is an online platform featuring food, music, film, and lectures about the suffrage movement. Find out more at Suffrage Wagon News Channel (http://SuffrageWagon.org)
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