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Remembering Susan B. Anthony on Women’s Equality Day

By Luz María Frías, YWCA Minneapolis President and CEO
August 25, 2017
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“Organize, agitate, educate, must be our war cry.”
– Susan B. Anthony

Women’s Equality Day is celebrated on August 26 to commemorate the 1920 adoption of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Nineteenth Amendment prohibits states and the federal government from denying the right to vote to citizens of our country on the basis of sex.

Women’s Equality Day was first celebrated in 1973. The President of the United States issues a proclamation every year commemorating the day.

While there are many inspirational quotes from Susan B. Anthony (Anthony), this quote resonated with me for a couple of reasons:
1) It personifies her efforts as a social reformer.
2) The words are as fitting today, as they were when they were first uttered in the late 1800’s.

Although most of our history lessons in school focused on Anthony’s efforts as a suffragist, little attention has been given to highlight her role as an abolitionist and civil rights leader.

In 1837, at the tender age of 17, Anthony collected anti-slavery petitions. In 1863, Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton founded the Women’s Loyal National League, which conducted the largest petition drive in United States history up to that time, collecting nearly 400,000 signatures in support of the abolition of slavery contributing to its passage in 1865. Three years later, Anthony and Stanton initiated the American Equal Rights Association which campaigned for equal rights for women and African Americans.

In 1872, Anthony was arrested for voting, citing her citizenship under the 14th Amendment giving her the right to vote. In 1890, the National American Woman Suffrage Association waged a state-by-state campaign to secure voting rights for women. A year later, our founding mothers established YWCA Minneapolis.

Reading this “herstory” gave me a greater understanding about our own “herstory” at YWCA Minneapolis. Our founding mothers had witnessed the suffragist movement and struggle for women’s rights across the country which, more than likely, prompted their commitment to change the status quo in our community.

As we witness the many injustices across gender, race, and other protected classes today, let the struggle led by abolitionists and suffragists serve as our inspiration to continue our fight of eliminating racism, empowering women, promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.

Happy Women’s Equality Day!

Luz María Frías, YWCA Minneapolis President and CEO