In this Random Thoughts post, we look at the sacrifices women have made throughout history to achieve equality in this world. My cofounder Kem Ellis and I have been discussing this hard-fought battle recently as a result of watching American Lives, the Ken Burns documentary from 2001.
Since we quit television five years ago, we have enjoyed our Netflix and Amazon Prime subscriptions. We saw recently where Amazon Prime had made American Lives available to watch and we jumped at the chance.
We were not disappointed.
The first two episodes of American Lives are titled Not For Ourselves Alone: The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. It’s a powerful story of their 50-year relationship as suffragettes working to get women the right to vote in the United States. Suffrage is a unique word coming from the Latin and French, and it means the right to vote in political elections. This is a right that women did not enjoy until 1920 in the U.S. with passage of the 19th Amendment.
One fact we did not know was that from 1878 to 1920, Stanton and Anthony arranged for an amendment to be presented to the United States Congress every year calling for the right of women to vote. For 42 years, this amendment was not even allowed out of committee for a vote. That is, until 1920, some fourteen years after the death of Anthony and eighteen years after the death of Stanton.
How sad these two suffragettes and social justice champions were not able to see their dream and vision realized in their lifetime.
The persistence of these extraordinary women in the face of incredible adversity reminds me of entrepreneurial women and men who refuse to give up on their dreams despite the negativity of people and society around them. Of course, it’s hard to imagine or quantify the real price or cost one must pay to create change or move the needle on a difficult social, economic, or environmental problem. For truly dedicated change agents and leaders like Eizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, these women were willing to dedicate their whole selves.
But they were not the only ones who sacrificed. Watch this short YouTube video titled Suffragists: The Fight to Vote. This video will help you to understand the sacrifices women have made to achieve some measure of equality.
Kem and I recommend purchasing Not for Ourselves Alone and learning more about Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. This powerful story is available on iTunes and YouTube for $4.99 USD.
Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia about Susan B. Anthony that we should all reflect on as we continue their work to advance gender equality and equal rights:
Part of the revolution, in Anthony’s view, was in ways of thinking. In a speech in 1889, she noted that women had always been taught that their purpose was to serve men, but “Now, after 40 years of agitation, the idea is beginning to prevail that women were created for themselves, for their own happiness, and for the welfare of the world.” Anthony was sure that women’s suffrage would be achieved, but she also feared that people would forget how difficult it was to achieve it, as they were already forgetting the ordeals of the recent past:
“We shall someday be heeded, and when we shall have our amendment to the Constitution of the United States, everybody will think it was always so, just exactly as many young people think that all the privileges, all the freedom, all the enjoyments which woman now possesses always were hers. They have no idea of how every single inch of ground that she stands upon today has been gained by the hard work of some little handful of women of the past.”