Sunday, September 23, 2007

Susan B. Anthony by Rebecca Tirabassi

Susan B. Anthony was described, by almost every source, as a powerful speaker and activist in the 19th century who was ahead of her time. Her Quaker father, who believed that girls should be afforded the same education as boys, was greatly responsible for developing her strong confidence as a young woman and leader. Wikipedia described her as a “well-educated, American civil rights leader, who played a pivotal role in securing women’s suffrage in America.”

She was born in Adams, Massachusetts in 1820 and traveled all over the United States and Europe during her lifetime, finally settling (and dying) in Rochester, New York in 1906.

Susan B. Anthony accomplished more in her lifetime than most of us could dream of achieving! She opposed slavery and abortion, took firm moral and political stands (including becoming a leader in the Temperance Movement), gave up to 100 speeches a year for over 45 years, co-founded the National Women’s Suffrage Association in 1869 (NWSA), and co-published a weekly periodical, The Revolution, from 1868-1870. She is most known for writing the Susan B. Anthony Amendment in 1878 which later became the Nineteenth Amendment, passing in 1920—giving women the right to vote. She was highly honored in 1979 as the first real woman to appear on an American coin—the Susan B. Anthony dollar!

Her entire life was devoted to eliminating discrimination and oppression, and not just for women. She was decidedly outspoken—and not passive when she believed in a cause, including her positions on slavery and abortion. Interestingly, in 1997, The Susan B. Anthony List, (a 501.c.4—a not-for-profit membership organization with a connected political action committee) reorganized with the focus to raise money to “train pro-life activists to run successful grassroots and political campaigns. . .work to dispel myths about abortion. . . educate voters. . .and elect more pro-life women in Congress through the Susan B. Anthony List Candidate Fund PAC.”

Though I had certainly heard of Susan B. Anthony, I didn’t choose her name because I remembered any of the prominent details about her life. Having chosen her name (almost) randomly, my research primarily opened my eyes to how a woman of faith and strong conviction who is persistent and focused can—over decades—achieve improbable, if not impossible goals. Anthony’s courage and resilience undoubtedly has paved the way for all American women to be leaders and activists in any era.

Most significantly, because of Susan B. Anthony, American women can vote! Through her achievements, she paved the way for women to acquire unlimited higher education, become founders of activist organizations and/or publishers of printed resources, thus impacting and activating the masses.

I was personally inspired by the fact that what she fought so hard to acquire, what she so passionately believed in and what she gave her entire life to achieve—the suffrage of women—she would not personally see come to pass in her lifetime. Among her many motivational quotes, one seemed to dictate her pursuits: “Failure is impossible.” She died years before the Nineteenth Amendment would pass, proving that her plight was not for her benefit alone. She fought for the rights of all American women who would follow after her!

Her indomitable perseverance and selflessness gives me courage to fight for what I believe whether or not I live to see it become a reality or reap the harvest of the hard work!


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