Mount Hope Cemetery in Rochester, NY is usually a quiet, reflective place. But on Tuesday, November 8, 2016 Mount Hope Cemetery was anything but quiet, as hundreds of people made their way up the cobbled path to pay their respects to one of its most famous residents, Susan B. Anthony.
Susan B. Anthony worked her entire adult life to secure for women the simple right of elective franchise, the right to have their voices heard in the political process, the right we exercised on Tuesday. She voted in 1872, years before it was legal, and was promptly arrested and fined $100, a fine that was never paid. She never lived to see women enjoy that right legally. But she never despaired; her famous motto, “Failure is Impossible” encouraged thousands of women to continue working for the cause long after her death in 1906.
On Tuesday many showed their gratitude by posting “I Voted” stickers on her gravestone; some paused to read the Declaration of Sentiments from the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848; all celebrated, not just their right to vote, but the presence on the ballot of the first woman to be nominated by a major party. So many people came to show their respects that the cemetery kept the gates open until way past the usual closing time.
We all know how Tuesday’s brief shining moment of possibility ended – we accept we have more work to do. But, just for now, let’s reflect on how far we have come, how far brave, hardworking women like Susan B. Anthony have carried us. Just for now, let that be the balm for our aching souls.