by Anne C. Coon
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, Susan B. Anthony’s 200th birthday, and the 75th anniversary of Rochester’s National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House, and the Anthony Museum has come up with the perfect way to celebrate.
Votercade 2020 celebrates the power of the vote with a series of five single-day events in the Finger Lakes Region.
“With Votercade 2020, we will connect with communities and cultural institutions beyond Susan B. Anthony’s home on Madison Street in Rochester,” says Deborah L. Hughes, President and CEO of the Anthony Museum. “We will energize audiences of all ages with the kind of street theater Susan B. Anthony would love, while modeling the importance of voting and civic engagement.”
Each event will begin with a caravan of vintage and contemporary cars, led by an iconic 1917 Ford Model T dubbed “Rose.” Visitors will enjoy an open-air festival with performances, exhibits, reenactors, art, and music, where education and entertainment play equal parts. Selfies with historic characters and cars will also be available.
“Claim Your Voice” and Vote!
In “Claim Your Voice,” actors will deliver monologues written especially for Votercade about topics that concern us all. Audience members will cast ballots on a question inspired by the speeches.
The monologues were written by Jenni Werner, Literary Director and Resident Dramaturg at Rochester’s Geva Theatre. In her years at Geva, Werner has committed to celebrating western New York State’s dedication to progressive causes, commissioning plays featuring Susan B. Anthony, Frederick Douglass, and Amelia Bloomer. She sees a direct line between her creative work and Votercade. “It’s vital we all participate in this democracy,” she says. “I hope that we create a dialogue with audiences that encourages civic participation.”
Making the Connections to Suffrage
In addition to what Votercade brings to each site, host organizations will highlight their connections to suffrage and civic engagement.
New York State Equal Rights Heritage Center, in collaboration with the William H. Seward House Museum and the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park, Auburn
When Votercade 2020 kicks off on June 13, the Harriet Tubman statue on the plaza of the NYS Equal Rights Heritage Center will be a powerful focal point for performances and exhibits.
Visitor Experience Manager Courtney Kasper explains that the “Seeing Equal Rights in New York State” exhibit will allow visitors to interact with New York State’s important place in the Women’s Rights and Human Rights movements.
Votercade visitors will also learn about the suffrage contributions of Auburn residents William and Frances Seward and Harriet Tubman. “Frances Seward was lobbied ardently on behalf of legislation to advance women’s legal equality,” explains Administrative and Visitor Engagement Coordinator Emily Kraft.
The Seward House Museum will be open for guided tours and will debut a new self-guided exhibit themed around the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment.
Famed abolitionist Harriet Tubman made her home in Auburn after purchasing property from her friend William Seward. She lived 50 years in freedom in Auburn, was a suffragist and good friend of Susan B. Anthony, Lucretia Mott, and Martha Coffin Wright, says Kimberly Szewczyk, Senior Interpretive Specialist for the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park.
The Harriet Tubman Home, Inc., in partnership with the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park, will be open on June 13 from 10am to 3pm.
Mount Hope Cemetery, Rochester
It’s well-known to those who have placed “I VOTED” stickers on her headstone that Susan B. Anthony is buried in this Victorian cemetery, as are many of her contemporaries, including Amy Post and Frederick Douglass. “A stroll through Mount Hope reveals the graves of the many courageous men and women who supported Anthony’s work, as well as those who challenged her ideals,” says Patricia Corcoran, President of the Friends of Mount Hope.
That legacy shapes the work of the Friends. “We cherish Miss Anthony’s resilience, her ability to build consensus, her perseverance. Our tour guides try to inspire visitors to view the work of these 19th century heroes within the context of their lives and times.”
On July 25, the Friends will offer two special tours, “Quest for Women’s Suffrage and Equality” and “The Arrest and Trial of Susan B. Anthony: Strategy, Tactics and the Struggle for the Vote.”
Ganondagan State Historic Site, Victor
“Ganondagan is proud to welcome Votercade 2020 and to have the opportunity to share the untold story of the Haudenosaunee women’s powerful influence on the suffrage movement, with the exhibit “Hodinöhsö:ni’ Women: From the Time of Creation,” says Meg Joseph, Executive Director of the Friends of Ganondagan,
She adds, “Ganondagan welcomes the opportunity to demonstrate that Native Americans are a living, breathing culture, not a culture that existed in the past, and to show Ganondagan’s impact on education about Native American history and culture.”
Performances by the Akwesasne Women Singers and other family-friendly activities are also planned for August 8.
Rochester Public Market
On August 29, Votercade will visit the Rochester Public Market, providing a high-energy connection to the past.“Our inclusive, dynamic, and diverse atmosphere is a testament to the accomplishments of activists from Rochester’s past, like Susan B. Anthony,” says Assistant Supervisor to the Market Kelly McBride. “The Market has always been the site of civic engagement and political participation. We are excited to celebrate 100 years of women’s suffrage and Rochester’s pioneering role in women’s rights.”
Finger Lakes Welcome Center, Geneva
With its stunning views of Seneca Lake, the Welcome Center is the perfect fall destination for Votercade. Celebratory music, period-appropriate food and drink, and chalk art fun for children will be part of the October 3 festivities. Performances and exhibits will take place in the Great Room at the Welcome Center, including displays of suffrage artifacts.
“The Finger Lakes Welcome Center proudly displays letters written by Susan B. Anthony and campaign memorabilia from the Women’s Suffrage Movement along with other historical artifacts specific to our region to educate visitors about the rich history of the Finger Lakes,” says Heather Tuttle, General Manager of the Taste NY Market at the Finger Lakes Welcome Center.
Plan Your Votercade Visit!
Come celebrate women’s suffrage in the Finger Lakes, where history, monuments and exhibits, along with stunning natural and built environments, provide opportunities for learning and adventure. Plan a trip to a single Votercade event or follow Rose and other vintage cars to all five stops throughout the summer.
Remember, too, the Suffragist City Parade takes place in Rochester’s Susan B. Anthony neighborhood on September 12, 2020. And there’s no better year to visit the National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House at 17 Madison St.
For the full schedule of each Votercade event, go to the Votercade 2020 link at susanb.org where all Anthony Museum events for 2020 are listed.
New York State Equal Rights Heritage Center in collaboration with the William H. Seward House Museum and the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park, Auburn
June 13, 2020
Mount Hope Cemetery, Rochester July 25, 2020
Ganondagan State Historic Site, Victor August 8, 2020
Rochester Public Market August 29, 2020
Finger Lakes Welcome Center, Geneva October 3, 2020