A conspicuous graveyard is being mobbed right now in Rochester, New York. Flashlights bob in the gloom as hundreds of people form a queue, snaking through tombs and leaning stones. They are all there to see one woman. Or at least one woman’s grave.
The ‘I Voted’ Sticker is an American icon, and today, suffragist Susan B. Anthony’s gravestone is covered in them. Women are exercising their right to vote, a right which was won in the year 1920. Susan B. Anthony did not live to see women’s suffrage in the U.S.
“Susan B. Anthony, in her 86 years probably progressed the world in one century than we’d seen in all the centuries before,” says a consultant to CNN in a video posted on their twitter feed during election coverage. Anthony was a pivotal player in the push for women’s suffrage at the end of the 19th century, and worked in the anti-slavery movement before that. Her face is iconic to most Americans as the image on the front of the “Susan B.,” the one dollar coin which was minted in 1979 until 1981, and then again in 1999.
A journalist, an activist, and a public speaker, Anthony founded multiple suffrage, temperance (resistance against alcoholism), and social reform organizations including the Women’s Loyal National League, the American Equal Rights Association, and the National Woman Suffrage Association. Anthony worked closely with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, another famous American suffragist to create The History of Woman Suffrage, a veritable bible of the movement.
Anthony’s message was not always well supported. She was arrested for voting in 1872 in Rochester. The move to arrest and convict Anthony was highly political and spurred debate within anti-suffrage political sphere. Her trial, which was widely publicized, led to a conviction and a fine to be paid. Anthony, as per her modus operandi of peaceful protest, refused to pay the fine, and the authorities did not press the issue further. Anthony and Stanton lobbied for an amendment to be presented to Congress to allow for women’s suffrage. That amendment evolved into the groundwork for the Nineteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the document which now allows for women’s votes.
“Look what legacy you have left for us,” says a visitor to her grave, and look what a legacy these visitors have left for her. By the time the graveyard closes tonight at 21:00 to allow for late voters, Anthony’s grave will be covered in so many stickers, her name will be obscured.
Someone will be smiling down on her grave tonight.