There’s an increasing buzz about the “Suffragette” film that features the early 20th century women’s suffrage movement in England. The film has opened in the UK and is expected to be released on October 23 in the United States. |
“The United States has a parallel story that’s just beginning to emerge after a century of relative silence,” according to Marguerite Kearns, a journalist and granddaughter of NYS suffrage activist Edna Buckman Kearns.
CENTENNIAL OBSERVANCE FOR AMERICAN SUFFRAGE MARTYR
Marguerite Kearns is also co-chair with author Robert P.J. Cooney Jr. of the national centennial campaign to honor Inez Milholland, America’s suffrage martyr (1886-1916). The Inez Milholland centennial observance is a program of the National Women’s History Project in Santa Rosa, California. The nonprofit organization has been educating Americans about women’s history for the past 35 years.
The “Suffragette” film from the UK highlights Emily Davison, England’s suffrage martyr, who died in 1913. The US suffrage martyr, Inez Milholland, a New Yorker who died in 1916, is not as well known as Emily Davison. Milholland died while on the lecture circuit when speaking to the Western women about their special role in the suffrage movement. Milholland is better known for leading suffrage parades in New York City and Washington, DC, rather than for the ultimate sacrifice she made.
The year 2016 is the centennial year of Inez Milholland’s death. And the story of Inez Milholland is becoming more relevant as a major US presidential campaign approaches and there’s more interest than ever in the long and difficult struggle for American women to win voting rights.
PARALLELS BETWEEN ENGLISH & AMERICAN MOVEMENTS
“There are many parallels between the English and American movements, even though each retained their distinct characteristics,” Marguerite Kearns continues. “Women in both countries died for the cause of equal rights. The activists in both countries maintained close ties and influenced each other. In both England and the US, suffrage activists were imprisoned, force fed, and violence was committed against them. Many Americans, including Inez Milholland, traveled to England to work in the campaigns there. And the English women reciprocated.”
Kearns notes: “For years I’ve been knocking on doors and networking with a growing constituency of people across the nation who are insisting that the women’s suffrage movement take its rightful place in American history.”
Since 2009, Kearns has been publishing an advocacy and educational web site about her suffrage activist grandmother and the ‘Spirit of 1776’ suffrage campaign wagon she used in parades and for Votes for Women organizing. The site, SuffrageWagon.org, was launched to advocate for the exhibit of the “Spirit of 1776” wagon used by Edna Buckman Kearns. This historic artifact is now in the collection of the New York State Museum (Albany, NY) where it has been displayed twice, in 2010 and 2012.
Kearns says it is time to advance the development of a new film that will address the American version of the suffrage movement. She has been presenting the narrative of her grandparents, Wilmer and Edna Kearns, in an experimental educational series, currently being tested by young people on her web site (SuffrageWagon.org).
Marguerite Kearns also publishes a multi-media platform that specializes in promoting women’s suffrage events and celebrations in the US and other parts of the world: SuffrageCentennials.com
INTEREST IN ESTABLISHING EQUALITY IN RELATIONSHIPS
“Today, Americans are interested in establishing equality in their own lives and through a wide variety of personal relationships. Both women and men have been interested in personal issues of equality for more than a century. By presenting the story of my grandparents, I’m sharing a tale of people who not only were participants in the women’s suffrage movement, but they also pioneered equality and harmony at home.
“The women’s suffrage movement represents the largest nonviolent grassroots social revolution in the United States. It’s time for the tens of thousands of Americans who contributed to this extraordinary effort to receive the recognition they deserve.”
“By honoring the suffrage organizing of our grandmothers, great grandmothers and other family members, we’re filling in an important part of American history. The movement for women’s voting rights demanded the commitment of several generations of activists over a 72 year period from 1848 to 1920. Americans are making the connection today between their family histories and the larger scope of American history. The result has been like a jolt of electricity redefining our cultural identity. Dry accounts in history books aren’t enough any more to capture the excitement and drama of the US suffrage movement. We want our history to be alive and relevant,” Kearns concludes.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Marguerite Kearns can be reached for comment at 888-303-7471 or email: SuffrageWagon@gmail.com Her web site: http://SuffrageWagon.org
Inez Milholland is a nominee for the National Women’s History Project’s 2016 initiative: “Working to Form a More Perfect Union: Honoring Women in Public Service and Government.” http://nwhp.org
For information about the Inez Milholland centennial observance:
InezMilhollandCentennial.com and SuffrageCentennials.com/?page_id=11479
Book about Inez Milholland’s last campaign by Robert P.J. Cooney Jr. http://RememberingInez.com
Inez Milholland images available from Library of Congress photo collection.
Bearsville, NY, USA
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