Aug. 24--Susan B. Anthony's words will be proclaimed. So will those of Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
These women helped lead the fight for women's suffrage in this country, and their reflections on the struggle to extend the vote to women will be read at the Women's Equality Day Rally from 2 to 4 p.m. today in Perry Square. The rally begins with a ceremonial march from City Hall to the park. The rally will also feature music by Mike Malthaner, Selena King and the Gem City Concert Band. (In case of rain, the event will be held at the Jefferson Educational Society, 3207 State St.)
The League of Women Voters of Erie County is sponsoring the rally, with support from Democratic and Republican women, according to Judi Roth, a member of the executive board of the Erie County Democratic Party.
That bipartisan support is important, because this rally isn't about women's issues.
Instead, the rally is designed to make people aware of the hard fight that women undertook to make sure the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution would be passed and then ratified by the states, Roth said. Women "fought too hard" for their right to vote not to exercise that right today, Roth said.
Today's rally occurs two days before the 94th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which U.S. Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby signed on the morning of Aug. 26, 1920. The fact that American women were granted the right to vote less than a century ago is mind-boggling. And for those who think today's political climate is divisive and heated, consider this headline from the Aug. 26, 1920, edition of the Erie Daily Times: "Woman suffrage is now a fact. ... Brings to conclusion longest and most bitter legislative fight in U.S."
In a 1995 Erie Times-News story about the 75th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, three local women in their 90s shared their memories of the era when women were shut out of the electoral process.
Susan Skeabeck was 16 when women's suffrage became law. One of six children born in a Pennsylvania coal mining town, her family had sent her to live with two teachers. In exchange for a place to live, she did housework, and they introduced her to the suffrage movement, she recalled. "They were really interested in getting things done. There were no such things as child labor laws. No matter how young you were, you got pushed out to work," said Skeabeck, who died in 2009 at age 108.
Men didn't care about education or the fact that children were forced to quit school. "That's why the women were so interested in voting," she said. "Women didn't have the right to say anything, especially in politics."
With the lessons from 1920 and the suffragette movement still fresh in their minds, the three women interviewed in 1995 stressed that they always exercised their right to vote. You can't exercise your right to vote unless you are registered. The deadline to register for the Nov. 4 election is Oct. 6, and there will be registration applications at the rally.
(c)2014 the Erie Times-News (Erie, Pa.)
Visit the Erie Times-News (Erie, Pa.) at www.GoErie.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services