More than 1,000 people packed a luncheon at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center on Wednesday for the annual event honoring the birthday of women’s voting rights activist Susan B. Anthony.
The guest speaker this year was Ann Dexter Gordon, a noted historian on the writings and speeches of the suffragist, who had a home in Rochester and is buried at Mount Hope Cemetery.
Gordon says the occasion of Anthony’s birth 197 years ago also should be used to remind us how important it is to preserve voting rights for all Americans.
“Voting rights are not very stable right now, and if we’re going to celebrate the suffragists, Susan B. Anthony certainly believed that every citizen in the United States had a right to vote, and we should aim for that still, I think.”
Gordon says there have been restrictive rules about voting in a number of states, which has affected who has been able to vote in some areas.
The historian tells WXXI News that Americans today have more political power in some ways than they did in the time that Susan B. Anthony lived.
“Susan B. Anthony had to imagine changing laws when she didn’t have a political voice; we have a big advantage over her, because we have the vote, most of us, and if there’s something we think needs to be changed in a local government or a state government, we have more power than she ever enjoyed.”
When asked what Susan B. Anthony might say about the issues she fought for if she were alive today, Gordon says the activist would likely be surprised that there are still so many pay equity issues between men and women that haven't been settled yet.