As I’m sure you are aware, our area was the birthplace of women’s suffrage. Almost exactly 100 years ago, the 19th Amendment was ratified, giving American citizens the right to vote regardless of their sex. And, certainly, when talking about women’s suffrage, it is necessary to highlight Susan B. Anthony’s historic contributions to our nation and, for us, her connection to the Finger Lakes.
After moving to New York state to be with her family, Anthony was introduced to William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass and, consequently, to their abolitionist ideals. The idea that everyone was equal provided the spark that began the suffrage movement right in Seneca Falls. The first Women’s Rights Convention, fiery speeches and the National Woman Suffrage Association came from this spark. Anthony was arrested in Rochester for allegedly casting an illegal vote. The national attention that followed ultimately led to the adoption of the 19th Amendment to our Constitution.
While this history lesson is one that is often highlighted, this centennial provides the opportunity to really reflect upon the work of these women. The fight for justice and outward aversion to suppression of rights was not unique to Susan B. Anthony. The combined work of suffragists just 100 years ago gave women a more equal position in society and helped our country make good on the promise of its founding documents.
When I was sworn into my fifth term in the Assembly, I occupied the same courtroom in Canandaigua Anthony was tried in. I returned there this week with a group of state and local officials to dedicate the street outside as Susan B. Anthony Lane. It marks her legacy, and it’s a reminder to all of us to follow her example of active citizenship, spirited advocacy and genuine concern for others.
As we celebrate the anniversary of the 19th Amendment’s ratification, we celebrate equality. As a district that housed Susan B. Anthony and other activists, we can feel a special pride for her efforts on behalf of all Americans.
What do you think? I want to hear from you. Send me your feedback, suggestions and ideas regarding this or any other issue facing New York State. You can always contact my district office at 315-781-2030, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or find me by searching for Assemblyman Brian Kolb on Facebook.
New York State Assemblyman Brian Kolb, R, represents the 131st District, which includes Ontario County and part of Seneca County.