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EDITORIAL: Follow Anthony's lead

York Dispatch
  • There was an Election Day tribute to suffragist Susan B. Anthony in Rochester, New York.
  • Anthony's fight for civil rights, including the right for women to vote, is historic.
  • She never realized the fruits of her labor, but we have, and we must let that be an inspiration.

At the Mount Hope Cemetery in Rochester, New York, on Election Day, there was a touching tribute to suffragist Susan B. Anthony at her gravesite, where thousands of people streamed by to place flowers, small personal items or "I voted" stickers on her gravestone.

Susan B. Anthony, circa 1855

The tribute actually began when former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accepted the Democratic nomination for president — a historic moment in its own right as the first time a woman led a major party's ticket. The widely covered event was a much-needed reminder for women that Clinton's nomination nearly 100 years after women were granted the hard-won right to vote meant a long-overdue historic moment had been realized.

Anthony, also an ardent abolitionist, education reformer and labor activist, was arrested for voting in Rochester in 1872. She was indicted, and at her trial in the Finger Lakes city of Canandaigua, New York, (the Rochester district attorney won a change of venue with his argument of potential juror bias), the judge ordered her found guilty without discussion and imposed significant fines on her.

Anthony refused to pay them.

Susan B. Anthony died in 1906, not living to see her work come to fruition. Women were granted the vote after her death, in 1920, under the 19th Amendment, also known as the Susan B. Anthony Amendment.

Anthony was never able to vote, but her work culminated in that significant right for future generations of women.

Eitan Freedenberg and his fiancée, Molly Tarbell, both of Rochester take Tarbell’s cousin, Josie Connell and her husband Shawn to see Susan B. Anthony's grave in Mt. Hope Cemetery in Rochester, NY on November 7, 2016.  The Connells were visiting from Brooklyn, NY.  Freedenberg said it, “feels like the place to be”  Of the people coming to see her grave, he said, “It’s a great tradition.  I think Susan B. would be so thrilled to see so many people here.”

In the wake of what is surely a disappointing mandate for many women hopeful they would see the first woman elected president this time, it's important to remember Anthony's fight and fortitude.

Those who came out in Rochester and at the polls on Election Day acknowledged that hard-fought civil rights wins are incremental. The work is not ever finished.

Women remain a political force. That can't be denied, nor can it be ignored, no matter the outcome of a single election.

And strides made, as significant and historic as they are, don't mean the struggle is over, any more than the election of the nation's first black president, Barack Obama, put an end to racism.

For women with progressive values, the work continues. For those who embrace conservative values, your voices have been heard.

Ultimately, as Americans, we all care about many of the same things, not the least of which is our love and dedication to our families and communities. We need to work together. When women are pitted against one another, it never bodes well for forward progress.

We should continue to honor the memory of Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and other suffragists who fought for the rights many of them never realized in their lifetime. By doing so, we honor the women of today, who are struggling to raise children, make ends meet, earn equal pay for equal work and maintain autonomy over their reproductive health.

The outcome of this election means there is potentially difficult work to be done on these fronts. So for the women who feel dejected and unheard through this process, remember those women who came before. Don't turn against those whose values are different but, rather, support one another.

And keep striving to make your voices heard. They matter.