The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. — The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
On August 26 — Women’s Equality Day, as designated by Congress in 1973 — women will gather virtually and in person to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The Women Take the Stage event takes place two days after the start of the fall semester and Professor of Women’s Studies Betty Bayer hopes the timing will allow students, faculty and staff to attend.
“This is not a celebration of the amendment,” she says, noting that it did not grant all women the right to vote, “but a commemoration and a recognition of all the labor that’s gone into voter rights.” Bayer explains that the event is designed to amplify women’s voices, encourage voter registration, increase the number of women in elected office and support access to free, fair and safe elections.
The free 90-minute online concert will feature a timeline of advances in women’s equality; messages and calls to action from speakers such as writer and political activist Gloria Steinem, New York Attorney General Letitia James and President and CEO of Time’s Up 2020 Tina Tchen; and musical performances by artists including Indigo Girls, Sweet Honey in the Rock and BETTY.
The event came about as a result of conversations among lead organizer of the Women March in Seneca Falls and first female mayor of Auburn, N.Y., Melina Carnicelli, Bayer, BETTY band member Aly Palmer and communications expert Karen Weiss. Bayer has been involved with Women March in Seneca Falls and Carnicelli since 2016 and first connected with Palmer at the annual Women’s March in Seneca Falls, N.Y.
“If there were ever a time for us to gather our forces and our strengths in a way that we can bring as much health and positivity to the nation, now is the time,” says Palmer, who serves as the creator and director of the women’s equality action organization 1@1.
Palmer’s 1@1 partner Weiss notes that the event will offer women tangible ways to get involved beyond voting. “We are going to be featuring change makers who have an enormous wealth of actions that people can take. We’ll amplify these actions so that people have some marching orders after the event.”
With help from Auburn Pubic Theater, a live pre-show, to be held at 7:30 p.m. at the Finger Lakes Drive-In in Auburn, N.Y., will feature music by artists including Rebecca McDonald ’18 and poetry by writers such as Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature Kathryn Cowles.
Cowles will read “Personal Poem,” which she wrote for the rally for women’s rights in Seneca Falls in January 2017 and has since delivered at other events. “The poem seems to strike a chord with listeners,” she says. “It’s a poem of witness, of saying things out loud that people don’t often say out loud.”
The online rally will be shown on the big screen starting at 9 p.m. Tickets are required for the live pre-show, with a limit of 300 cars. For more information about the pre-show, click here.
“We’re excited to get the energy up, get the message out and recognize all that has gone into gaining voting rights — and all that still needs to be done,” Bayer says.