Good morning! I hope everyone had a good weekend. Today’s music video is a bit of a history lesson. November 12, among other things, is the day that Elizabeth Cady Stanton was born back in 1815. She is a foremother of mine, a founder of the First Wave of feminism in the U.S. Along with Lucretia Mott and Mott’s sister, Martha Coffin Wright, she organized the 1848 Seneca Falls convention, the first U.S. convention to discuss women’s rights and their role in society. This was the beginning of the long struggle to finally achieve women’s suffrage in 1920 and further women’s rights later on.
Stanton was a brilliant woman who worked with Susan B. Anthony and many other women and men (including Frederick Douglass) to change the country’s laws with regard to women’s rights. She was also more radical than many of her colleagues, demanding more than just the right to vote (she felt that divorce rights, employment rights, and property rights for women needed to be addressed, as well) and questioning Christianity and the inherent sexism she saw therein.
She wasn’t perfect. Her race and class affected her philosophy in ways that feel cringeworthy in our current age. But she remains one of my heroes, and I want to celebrate her birthday today. But what video would work best?
Initially, I wanted to use Ani DiFranco‘s poem “Grand Canyon,” wherein she thanks her foremothers and forefathers, but all the videos of DiFranco’s readings on Youtube are marred by her always enthusiastic, and occasionally annoying, audiences. A friend recommended Alix Olson‘s poem, “Womyn Before,” which has a certain appeal, but another friend recommended the video I ended up choosing. While the focus of the film is on Alice Paul (another hero of mine) and the suffragists of the 19-teens, I think it still fits the bill (and it’s a cool vid, as well). My only disappointment with it is that it continues to present the myth that only white women fought for suffrage. Folks like Ida B. Wells and Sojourner Truth would disagree with that.
It’s been, what?, 7 years since I finished my thesis and these women and this story still make me cry.