Tuesday, 30 August 2016 15:56

Readings, Events to Celebrate Women's Voting Rights Milestones

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In advance of the 100th anniversary of women receiving the right to vote in the state, SUNY Oswego's gender and women's studies program will host a series of book readings and discussions.

Funding by the New York Council for the Humanities, the Votes for Women project notes that women gained the right to vote in New York state in 1917 and that the 19th amendment -- granting women the right to vote in the United States -- will turn 100 in 2020. SUNY Oswego received one of the council's grants to support participation.

The event celebrates New York's role as a major player in women's rights and voting issues. "The history of the women's suffrage movement in our state and nation spanned 70 years, from the 1848 meeting convened by Elizabeth Cady Stanton in Seneca Falls to the tactics wielded by Alice Paul, and includes overlooked stories and actors such as the African-American suffragists," the council's website notes.

"This is obviously an historic election with Hillary Clinton as the first woman to secure the nomination to run for president of a major party," said Mary McCune, the college's director of gender and women's studies and a member of Oswego's history faculty. She and Gwen Kay, director of the college's Honors Program and also a history faculty member, successfully applied for the grant.

Between that nomination and the impending centennial of suffrage in New York, "Gwen and I think these two events provide a wonderful opportunity for us to explore the history of the women's suffrage campaign in the state as well as the nation and to tie those discussions of the past into discussions of more recent history -- the rise of the feminist movement in the late 20th century -- and conversations about the current political environment," McCune said.

The schedule of books for recommended reading and public events in Oswego, all of which will begin at 5:30 p.m., include:

* Sept. 7: A meet and greet with book sign in and out at River's End Bookstore, corner of West First and Bridge streets in Oswego.

* Sept. 21: Discussion of "Votes for Women: The Struggle for Suffrage Revisited," a collection of essays with Jean H. Baker as editor, at River's End Bookstore.

* Oct. 19: Discussion of "Seneca Falls and the Origins of the Women's Rights Movement," written by Sally G. McMillen, at the SUNY Oswego Honors Office, Marano Campus Center.

* Nov. 9: Discussion of "African American Women in the Struggle for the Vote, 1850-1920," written by Rosalyn Terborg-Penn, at River's End Bookstore.

* Nov. 30: Discussion of "Sex Wars: A Novel of the Turbulent Post-Civil War Period," written by Marge Piercy, at River's End Bookstore.

All books will be made available to borrow to reading-group members from the River's End Bookstore, but also will be available for purchase.

"Given the many news articles and opinion pieces that reflected on generational differences in how women have reacted to Hillary Clinton's nomination to run as president, we are hoping to engage a multi-generational group of people to come together to discuss the books in our series and to reflect on the meaning of Clinton's run and the general reaction to her as a candidate," McCune said, with an aim of bringing together 10 to 15 people for the readings and discussion.

"We also hope to bring greater awareness of the movement for women's suffrage -- its radical nature, the misogyny apparent in opposition to women's involvement in politics as well as divisions within the movement itself such as those over tactical differences in organizing and the racism evident in much of the movement whose white leaders were often all too willing to neglect the voices of black women in the pursuit of votes from Southern legislators," she added.

SUNY Oswego's participation also will include an event in late October -- exact dates to be determined -- at the Women's Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls. Allison Rank of Oswego's political science faculty join a panel discussion on voting in America, while art faculty member Rebecca Mushtare will introduce a poster exhibition.

For more information on the reading and discussion events or on how to join the reading group, call 315-312-2170 or email [email protected]

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