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People are flocking to Susan B. Anthony’s grave and covering it with ‘I Voted’ stickers

“It’s staggering to see the amount of people who are here.”

An original letter about male oppression of women’s rights during the Spanish American War. CREDIT: AP/ David Duprey
An original letter about male oppression of women’s rights during the Spanish American War. CREDIT: AP/ David Duprey

On the day the country may elect its first female president, hundreds of people are gathering at the grave of Susan B. Anthony, a leader of the women’s suffrage movement, in Mount Hope Cemetery in southern Rochester, New York. Visitors placed “I voted” stickers on her headstone, left flowers, and took selfies to commemorate Anthony.

Although a few people came to the cemetery during past elections and left stickers, there were far more visitors on Tuesday, according to local newspaper the Democrat and Chronicle. The cemetery normally closes at 5 p.m. but is scheduled to stay open until 9 p.m. on Election Day.

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“It’s staggering to see the amount of people who are here,” a News 8 WROC broadcaster said on Tuesday morning. The station has a live video stream on Facebook showing cemetery goers as they approach Anthony’s grave that up to 10,000 people were watching at one point on Tuesday.

As many Americans celebrate the victories of the women’s suffrage movement by wearing white to the polls and honoring women like Susan B. Anthony, however, it’s worth pointing out that non-white women were denied the right to vote for decades after the 1920 passage of the 19th Amendment. Jim Crow laws remained in effect; for black women, state violence and intimidation reigned at polling places. And until the 1970s, there was no requirement that voting materials be printed in languages other than English.

Susan B. Anthony opposed the 15th amendment, which granted all black men the right to vote, saying “I will cut off this right arm of mine before I will ever work or demand the ballot for the Negro and not the woman.” She also called black men “not only totally illiterate, but also densely ignorant of every public question.”

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, another leading figure in the suffrage movement, also said of African Americans, “No; I would not trust [them] with all my rights; degraded, oppressed [themselves], [they] would be more despotic with the governing power than even our Saxon rulers are.”

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But white voices were not the only ones demanding suffrage. The list of black women who led the fight for access to the levers of democracy includes Sojourner Truth, who fought for both abolition and women’s suffrage, Ida B. Wells, who founded the first black suffrage organization, the Alpha Suffrage Club of Chicago, and Mary Ann Shadd Cary, who founded the Colored Women’s Progressive Franchise Association in D.C.