The perSISTERS works are not the only things I’m making right now, but they are the pieces I finish the fastest. Every few days something happens to make a protest poster about! Soon I will be posting more about my (working title) Landscape of Objects pieces. August 28 is my deadline to complete three in that series, so there’s not long to wait.
So, Heather Heyer. This poster will be available at Black Lab starting on Thursday, August 17.
Heather Heyer, a 32 year old activist for social justice, was killed by a racist white supremacist terrorist in Virginia in August, 2017.
Heather D. Heyer was killed on Saturday, August 12, in Charlottesville, Va., when a car crashed into demonstrators protesting a white supremacy rally.
Heather D. Heyer died standing up for what she believed in.
Friends described her as a passionate advocate for the disenfranchised who was often moved to tears by the world’s injustices. That sense of conviction led her to join demonstrators protesting a rally of white nationalists in Charlottesville, Va., on Saturday.
“We were just marching around, spreading love — and then the accident happened,” a friend, Marissa Blair, said. “In a split second you see a car, and you see bodies flying.”
The authorities said Ms. Heyer, walking with her friends, was killed when a car driven by a man from Ohio rammed into the crowd.
“Heather was such a sweet soul, and she did not deserve to die,” Ms. Blair said on Sunday.
Others said Ms. Heyer, who lived in Charlottesville, spoke out against inequality and urged co-workers to be active in their community.
“Heather was a very strong woman,” said Alfred A. Wilson, a manager at a law firm where Ms. Heyer worked as a paralegal. She stood up against “any type of discrimination,” he said. “That’s just how she’s always been.”
Mr. Wilson said in an interview on Sunday that he found her at her computer crying many times. “Heather being Heather has seen something on Facebook or read something in the news and realized someone has been mistreated and gets upset,” he said.
She often posted messages on Facebook about equality and love, said Ms. Blair, who recently left the law firm. “She’s always so passionate and she speaks with so much conviction all the time,” she said.
She worked to improve herself by taking classes and studying. “If she’s going to do something, she made sure she understood it,” Mr Wilson said.
Ms. Heyer lived alone with her Chihuahua, Violet, who was named after her favorite color.
For her, activism was about more than just “sitting behind your computer screen,” Ms. Blair said. “You gotta get out in your community and do things.”
“I’ve never had a close friend like this be murdered,” Ms. Blair said. “We thought, ‘What would Heather do?’ Heather would go harder. So that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to preach love. We’re going to preach equality, and Heather’s death won’t be in vain.”
There’s so much to make art about right now. Sigh.
“I thank you for your compliments about how great I am but I don’t want to waste my time on me.” “The time belongs to the gentlelady from California.”
I’ve wanted to do a piece on Maxine Waters for a while but I’ve been waiting for a copy-able image of her looking over her reading glasses. The best one (not available for reuse) was by Alex Wong for gettyimages. But now I’ve made an illustration based on the video feed from the House Financial Services Committee meeting of July 27, 2017. Christine Emba of the Washington Post writes: “Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was testifying before the committee about the state of the international finance system when Waters, the committee’s ranking Democrat, asked why his office had not responded to a letter from her regarding President Trump’s financial ties to Russia. Mnuchin tried to sidestep the question with platitudes and compliments, apparently attempting to run out the clock on her questioning. It didn’t work. Waters shut down his rambling and redirected him to her question again and again with the phrase “Reclaiming my time,” a stone-faced invocation of House procedural rules.”
When I first started researching Maxine Waters and her questioning of Mnuchin, I was discouraged to see that the right’s painting of her as an “unhinged liberal” claimed the top three search results. When I went back to get the exact words for the background text in this design, I saw that the search results have been seized by the progressives because of the meme-ing phrase “reclaiming my time” and the amazing viral song produced by Mykal Kilgore. (You have to watch it!)
Seize the narrative.
From Wikipedia: Maxine Moore Waters (born August 15, 1938) is an American politician, serving as the U.S. Representative for California’s 43rd congressional district, and previously the 35th and 29th districts, serving since 1991. A member of the Democratic Party, she is the most senior of the 12 black women currently serving in the United States Congress, and is a member and former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. Before becoming a member of Congress she served in the California Assembly, to which she was first elected in 1976. As an Assembly member, Waters advocated for divestment from South Africa’s apartheid regime. In Congress, she is an outspoken opponent of the Iraq War and Donald Trump.
Waters was born in 1938 in Kinloch, Missouri. Fifth out of thirteen children, Waters was raised by her single mother once her father left the family when Maxine was two. She graduated from High School in St. Louis, and moved with her family to Los Angeles, California, in 1961. She worked in a garment factory and as a telephone operator before being hired as an assistant teacher with the Head Start program at Watts in 1966. She later enrolled at Los Angeles State College (now California State University, Los Angeles) and graduated with a sociology degree in 1970. In 1973, she went to work as chief deputy to a Los Angeles City Councilman, and in 1976 she launched her political career in the California State Assembly.
Sophia Magdalena Scholl was born on May 9, 1921, in Forchtenberg am Kocher, where her father, Robert Scholl, was mayor. At 12 Sophie joined the Hitler Youth, but became disillusioned. The arrest of her father left a strong impression on her. He was punished for telling his secretary: “The war! It is already lost. This Hitler is God’s scourge on mankind, and if the war doesn’t end soon the Russians will be sitting in Berlin.”
To the Scholl family loyalty meant obeying the dictates of the heart. “What I want for you is to live in uprightness and freedom of spirit, no matter how difficult that proves to be,” her father told the family.
When the mass deportation of Jews began in 1942, Sophie’s brother and his university friends bought a typewriter and a duplicating machine and wrote the first leaflet with the heading: Leaflets of The White Rose. The leaflet caused a tremendous stir among the student body. It was the first time that internal dissent against the Nazi regime had surfaced in Germany. The group also used graffiti to get their message out.
When Sophie became a student at the university and discovered her brother’s involvement with The White Rose, she too joined the group. Members of The White Rose worked in secrecy producing thousands of leaflets calling for the end of the war and strongly denouncing the inhuman acts of the Nazis. They mailed them from undetectable locations in Germany to scholars and medics. Sophie bought stamps and paper at different places, to divert attention from their activities. Each leaflet was more critical of Hitler and the German people than the last. The Gestapo had been looking for the pamphlets’ authors as soon as the first ones appeared. As the language in the leaflets became more inflammatory they stepped up their efforts. They arrested people at the slightest hint of suspicion.
A university handyman and Nazi party member saw Sophie and her brother with the leaflets and reported them. They were taken into Gestapo custody. Sophie’s “interrogation” was so cruel, she appeared in court with a broken leg.
At the age of 21, Sophie Scholl was executed by guillotine for the crime of treason by the “People’s Court” in Germany on Feb. 22, 1943. When Sophie last spoke with her parents, within the few hours between her trial and execution, she said, “We took everything upon ourselves. What we did will cause waves.”
Making Waves: The White Rose has inspired many people and movements around the world, including many anti-war, anti-genocide, and anti-fascist activists.
These are the words of Leaflet 4’s concluding phrase, which became the motto of The White Rose resistance: We will not be silent. We are your bad conscience. The White Rose will not leave you in peace!
Adapted from the articles by Margie Burns (Raoul Wallenberg Foundation) and by
Mr Hornberger (The Future of Freedom Foundation) and Wikipedia
Here are two new poster designs in the #FemalePowerProject Positive Protest Principles Posters series, also called the perSISTERS. Now I will tell you about them.
TELL your story
It is partly through telling our stories—claiming the language for our experience—that we find female power. The more we speak and read, the more it is possible to express, and the more individual, “particularized,” experience becomes the rich shared experience of all humans.
In case you’re wondering about the wiggly-flower thing in the upper right, I was inspired by the striking flower pin Toni Morrison is wearing in the photo of her receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama in 2012. Looking through my type ornaments, this one caught my eye. (It is part of the Poetica Typeface.) I think of it as an animated version of the flower pin Morrison is wearing. I placed it in the design over her open hand as if she is juggling a living story, throwing it into the air and into the world where it becomes an independent organism, providing a “context for our lives.”
Toni Morrison (born February 18, 1931) is an American novelist, editor, teacher, and Professor Emeritus at Princeton University. Morrison won the Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award in 1988 for Beloved. Inspired by the true story of an enslaved African American woman, Margaret Garner, who had escaped slavery but was pursued by slave hunters. Facing a return to slavery, Garner killed her two-year-old daughter but was captured before she could kill herself. Morrison’s novel imagines the dead baby returning as a ghost, Beloved, to haunt her mother and family. It would be hard to overestimate the influence of this novel on literature and American cultural understanding. Beloved is the first of three novels about love and African American history, sometimes called the Beloved Trilogy. Morrison has said they are intended to be read together, explaining, “The conceptual connection is the search for the beloved – the part of the self that is you, and loves you, and is always there for you.” In 1993 Morrison was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Her citation reads: Toni Morrison, “who in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality.” She was the first black woman of any nationality to win the prize. In her Nobel acceptance speech, Morrison talked about the power of storytelling. To make her point, she told a story. She spoke about a blind, old, black woman who is approached by a group of young people. They demand of her, “Is there no context for our lives? No song, no literature, no poem full of vitamins, no history connected to experience that you can pass along to help us start strong? … Think of our lives and tell us your particularized world. Make up a story.”
When doing research on Eleanor Roosevelt I found this photo of her that includes Edith Sampson. They worked together on the U.S. delegation to the United Nations when the organization was crafting the remarkable Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Everyone should read this document which has been translated into over 500 languages. Who is Edith Sampson? She was a complicated woman at a complicated time, and this is what I found out about Eleanor and Edith.
Blue was Roosevelt’s favorite color. The orchid icon (background design) was made by freepik.com from www.flaticon.com
Anna Eleanor Roosevelt (October 11, 1884 – November 7, 1962) was an American politician, diplomat, and activist. She was the longest-serving First Lady of the United States, having held the post from March 1933 to April 1945 during her husband President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s four terms in office, and served as United States Delegate to the United Nations General Assembly from 1945 to 1952. President Harry S. Truman later called her the “First Lady of the World” in tribute to her human rights achievements.
Roosevelt was a member of the prominent American Roosevelt and Livingston families and a niece of President Theodore Roosevelt. She married her fifth cousin once removed, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in 1905.
Eleanor and Franklin’s marriage was always complicated, and she resolved to seek fulfillment in a public life of her own. She persuaded Franklin to stay in politics after he was stricken with debilitating polio in 1921, which cost him the normal use of his legs, and Roosevelt began giving speeches and appearing at campaign events in his place. Following Franklin’s election as Governor of New York in 1928, and throughout the remainder of Franklin’s public career in government, Roosevelt regularly made public appearances on his behalf, and as First Lady while her husband served as President, she significantly reshaped and redefined the role of that office during her own tenure and beyond, for future First Ladies.
Though widely respected in her later years, Roosevelt was a controversial First Lady at the time for her outspokenness, particularly her stance on racial issues. She was the first presidential spouse to hold regular press conferences, write a daily newspaper column, write a monthly magazine column, host a weekly radio show, and speak at a national party convention. On a few occasions, she publicly disagreed with her husband’s policies. She launched an experimental community at Arthurdale, West Virginia, for the families of unemployed miners, later widely regarded as a failure. She advocated for expanded roles for women in the workplace, the civil rights of African Americans and Asian Americans, and the rights of World War II refugees.
Following her husband’s death in 1945, Roosevelt remained active in politics for the remaining 17 years of her life. She pressed the United States to join and support the United Nations and became its first delegate. She served as the first chair of the UN Commission on Human Rights, and oversaw the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Later she chaired the John F. Kennedy administration’s Presidential Commission on the Status of Women. By the time of her death, Roosevelt was regarded as “one of the most esteemed women in the world”; she was called “the object of almost universal respect” in her New York Times obituary.
Edith Spurlock Sampson (October 13, 1898 – October 8, 1979) was an American lawyer and judge, and the first Black U.S. delegate appointed to the United Nations.
Sampson came from a struggling family and left school at 14 to work. She eventually did finish high school and while she worked she studied at the New York School of Social Work. One of her instructors encouraged her to become an attorney. She worked as a social worker in the day and studied law at night. Sampson graduated from John Marshall Law School. In 1924 Sampson opened a law office on the South Side of Chicago, serving the local black community. From 1925 through 1942, she was associated with the Juvenile Court of Cook County and served as a probation officer. In 1927 Sampson became the first woman to earn a Master of Laws from Loyola University’s Graduate Law School. She also passed the Illinois State Bar exam that year. In 1934 Sampson became one of the first women to argue before the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1943, she became one of the first black members of the National Association of Women Lawyers. In 1947 she was appointed an Assistant State’s Attorney in Cook County. President Truman appointed Sampson as an alternate U.S. delegate to the United Nations in August 1950, making her the first African-American to officially represent the United States at the UN. She was reappointed to the UN in 1952, and served until 1953. During the Eisenhower Administration, she was a member of the U.S. Commission for UNESCO. In 1961 and 1962, she became the first black U.S. representative to NATO.
In 1949, Sampson was part of a non-government program that sent twenty-six prominent Americans on a world tour meeting leaders and citizens of foreign countries and participating in public political debates and radio broadcasts. Part of the reason she was able to participate is that, being a successful lawyer, she had the money to pay her own way. Sampson sought to counter the propaganda in the Soviet Union during the Cold War regarding the treatment of African Americans in the United States. This was controversial within the African American community and she was sometimes called an apologist for America’s injustices. Federal support for civil rights had to be a factor in a foreign policy that saw the cold war, at the time, as a war of ideas, and Edith Sampson was in the middle of this. It has been suggested that because she did not live in the American South and did not have connections there, she was not as aware of conditions there. She was a respected person at home and abroad and pressed for justice in the U.S.. She told an audience in Des Moines in 1950: “You have got to open these closed doors and end segregation if you are going to save yourselves. Communist agents have used the story of segregation as a propaganda weapon….It is bad enough, but the story they get abroad is worse than is actually true. If we had a real Fair Employment Practices Commission, it would mean more than having millions of dollars spent through the Marshall Plan. The people of the eastern and backward countries do not want gratuities; they want to be able to believe in you.” This was before the nonviolent protests spearheaded by Dr. King (with the Montgomery bus boycott of 1955) which pivoted the thinking of how to work for civil rights with the U.S. as a major character on the world stage.
Non-violent civil disobedience changed everything. “As a young preacher named Martin Luther King asserted amid the excitement of the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955, ‘If we were incarcerated behind the iron curtains of a communistic nation—we couldn’t do this. If we were trapped in the dungeon of a totalitarian regime—we couldn’t do this. But the great glory of American democracy is the right to protest for right….We are here because of our love for democracy, because of our deep-seated belief that democracy transformed from thin paper to thick action is the greatest form of government on earth.’”* Thus the protests were framed as an example of a vibrant American democracy, not as a symptom of its failure. Over time Sampson did become impatient with the slow pace of civil rights progress in the U.S.. In a speech to African American high school graduates in 1960, she said “We have convinced ourselves, because it seemed so necessary, that the battle against injustice could be won piece by piece through changes in law, through court appeals, through persistent but cautious pressures. We were mistaken. No—we were wrong. Ours was not the only way. It was not even the best way.” She stood “in admiration of those who…effectively used the new device of non-violence borrowed from Christ and Gandhi and brought to sharpened potency …by Martin Luther King.”* She concluded that, if it were possible for her to start over again, perhaps she would not make as many mistakes or miss as many opportunities, and that she may have had more courage to do things better. She still maintained that communicating person-to-person about American ideals and the lives of African Americans was better than any published propaganda.
In 1962 Sampson became the first black woman to be elected as a judge in the state of Illinois. By 1969 she had apparently regained her faith in working within the system, saying in a speech: “We learned that we could work within the establishment, the system, without necessarily knuckling under to it.”
She was a privileged woman and she worked for justice at a time, like now, when great inhuman forces seemed to be at work, and it was not entirely clear how to proceed.
From Wikipedia and *“The American Way: Edith Sampson, the NAACP, and African American Identity in the Cold War” by Helen Laville and Scott Lucas, published in Diplomatic History (1996) 20 (4): 565-590
Here is the most recent Female Power Project Positive Protest Principles Poster, honoring Rosa Parks. It’s called “Take Up Space.” I am here and it’s wrong to make me move. This is from Wikipedia: “Rosa Louise McCauley Parks (February 4, 1913 – October 24, 2005) was an activist in the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. On December 1, 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama, Parks refused to obey the bus driver’s order to give up her seat in the colored section to a white passenger, after the white section was filled.
Parks’ act of defiance and the Montgomery bus boycott became important symbols of the modern Civil Rights Movement. She became an international icon of resistance to racial segregation.”
The design is based on a photograph of Ms. Parks on a Montgomery bus on December 21, 1956, the day Montgomery’s public transportation system was legally integrated.
The stripes in this design are inspired by the shirt Ms Parks wears in this photo from 1955.
Here is my latest poster production honoring Kamala Harris. Kamala Harris is the junior Senator from California. Previously she served as Attorney General of California. Harris was born in Oakland, California. She is the daughter of an Indian mother, a cancer researcher who emigrated in 1960, and a Jamaican-American father who is an economics professor.
On June 7, 2017, two Republican senators (Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Richard Burr of North Carolina) tried to silence Sen. Harris at a Senate Intelligence hearing as she attempted to get a yes or no answer out of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. She wanted to know whether he would grant full independence to the investigator of possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. She was told “to give Rosenstein ‘the courtesy’ to answer or not answer her question as he saw fit.”* Male senators had not been similarly silenced in this hearing. It was as if those two senators were trying to remind her of “her place”—women should be polite and people of color should show deference—at least that is how the Twitter-sphere interpreted the comment. Rosenstein would not answer her yes or no, and he rambled on about why it wasn’t necessary, and maybe a bad idea, for the investigator to have full independence. This could be called “mansplaining.” Sen. Harris gazed (what is the word for looking both amused and appalled?) at Rosenstein as he spoke. When he stopped, she asked, “So, is that a no?”
Yes, women in power should insist.
From Wikipedia; *Christina Cauterucci’s reporting on Slate.com; and the video clip “Kamala Harris Interrupted at Intel Senate Hearing” from CNN. The image of Ms. Harris is based on a screen shot from the CNN clip.
I recently returned from a week’s trip back West. I am from New Mexico, and the landscape of the Southwestern United States is my ur-landscape—the space underlying all my experiences of space. These landscapes bellow out the slow drama of large and mighty processes: uplift; slipping; erosion. In the East, where I live now, the landscape is more about the faster but still inexorable forces exerted by humans on the land. The heavy cover of vegetation around here hides the slow earth energy buried in rocks. In my new works I am using the objects I have worked with for years: plant objects; animal objects; human objects. Now I am making landscapes with them. Landscape is the theater of vast forces and we move across the stage as participants and watchers. The artist is the kind of watcher who gathers and transforms the symbols of vast processes—the props and the costumes—and creates productions that participate with the landscape—allowing it to become self-similar—because the landscape absorbs all of this into itself like a vast, slow, ornamented wheel.
Like most of my work, this new piece will likely be part of a series. Please click on the image and enlarge on a desktop monitor, scroll to the left, so you can see what I am trying to get at here. As a landscape it can be seen as a whole, but it can also be experienced as a series of cropped views. I was inspired by a task suggested to me by a musician who was interested in my Celestial Bodies. He was looking for album art for his heavily layered and textured electronic music and he saw a similarity between our works. Since I am also a graphic designer, I knew I should first see what kind of format album art is in online nowadays. I discovered that it needs to work very small (phone screen) or it could be larger (print or large screen) and also appears in different proportions, square in some places and elsewhere rectangular. It seemed a daunting task to make something that flexible from my work’s highly detailed images. I knew a Celestial Body would not be readable at postage-stamp size! Then I was listening to his music in Spotify and noticed the sound histogram, or whatever it is called, and it looked like a landscape to me, a landscape through time. And that made me think about how we move through a landscape and capture bits of it as we pass through. So I thought I would make a layered and complex space using objects and I could crop different parts for different uses. During April I took a trip with my family and we drove quite a bit in Colorado and Utah. I am still digesting my experience of landscape from that time, in that place, and it is informing these landscapes of objects I am making here, in this time. I hope to get on the road again soon! Meanwhile, visit my Instagram @LedaBlackArtist to see my posts as I process that trip and trips to come.
I’m now calling these #FemalePowerProject Positive Protest Principles Posters. With these three, the total number of designs will be ten. (Click here to see the first seven designs.) They are: DISSENT honoring Ruth Bader Ginsburg; be marvelous TOGETHER honoring Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton; and FIGHT honoring Hillary Clinton. Two sizes are available for sale and the digital versions can be downloaded here for free (be marvelous TOGETHER is designed for larger sizes). 11 x 14 inch prints are $30 and 16 x 20 inch prints are $45. I can send them in the mail for flat rate $5 or you can purchase them at my retail studio, Black Lab, at 716 Monroe Street NE, Studio 16, Washington, DC 20017. Read below the thumbnails for some text describing these characters.
Click on the blurry thumbnail image to see a higher resolution version!
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
(born Joan Ruth Bader; March 15, 1933) is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Ginsburg was appointed by President Bill Clinton and took the oath of office on August 10, 1993. She is the second female justice to be confirmed to the Court (after Sandra Day O’Connor) and one of four female justices to be confirmed (with Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, who are still serving). Following Justice O’Connor’s retirement and prior to Justice Sotomayor joining the Court, Ginsburg was the only female justice on the Supreme Court. During that time, Ginsburg became more forceful with her dissents, noted by legal observers and in popular culture.
Ginsburg spent a considerable portion of her legal career as an advocate for the advancement of gender equality and women’s rights, winning multiple victories arguing before the Supreme Court. She advocated as a volunteer lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union and was a member of its board of directors and one of its general counsels in the 1970s. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter appointed her to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit where she served until her elevation to the Supreme Court.
Ginsburg has been referred to as a “pop culture icon”. Ginsburg’s profile began to rise after Justice O’Connor’s retirement in 2005 left Ginsburg as the only serving female justice. Ginsburg’s increasingly fiery dissents, particularly in Shelby County v. Holder, led to the creation of the Notorious R.B.G. Tumblr and meme comparing the justice to rapper The Notorious B.I.G. The creator of the Notorious R.B.G Tumblr, then-law student Shana Knizhnik, teamed up with MSNBC reporter Irin Carmon to turn the blog into a book titled Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Released in October 2015, the book became New York Times bestseller. Ginsburg herself admitted to having a “large supply” of Notorious R.B.G T-shirts which she distributed as gifts. Her family and close friends claim that Ginsburg herself does not have a “pop culture” personality and find the whole thing bemusing.
Mostly from Wikipedia
About the Dissent Jabot
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg has a fabulous jabot, or decorative collar, collection to wear with her black robe. During an extensive interview with Yahoo News’ Katie Couric, Ginsburg showed off her assortment of collars. She has a “dissenting collar,” which she explained to Couric “looks fitting for dissents.” She also has a collar for when she writes the majority opinion, which was a gift from her law clerks. Ginsburg was seen wearing her dissent collar on November 9, 2016.
Partly based on http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/ruth-bader-ginsburg-dissenting-collar
Hillary Rodham Clinton
I based this design on classic boxing posters. If you don’t know who she is, look her up!
Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony
Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony “worked marvelously together”
Stanton and Anthony are “foremothers” of the struggle for women’s equality. In 1851, Stanton started working with Susan B. Anthony, a well-known abolitionist. The two women made a great team. Anthony managed the business affairs of the women’s rights movement while Stanton did most of the writing. Together they edited and published a woman’s newspaper, the Revolution, from 1868 to 1870. In 1869, Anthony and Stanton formed the National Woman Suffrage Association. They traveled all over the country and abroad, promoting woman’s rights.
Anna Howard Shaw, another suffragist, wrote a description of the relationship between Stanton and Anthony in The Story of a Pioneer: “She [Miss Anthony] often said that Mrs. Stanton was the brains of the new association, while she herself was merely its hands and feet; but in truth the two women worked marvelously together, for Mrs. Stanton was a master of words and could write and speak to perfection of the things Susan B. Anthony saw and felt but could not herself express.”
From: http://www.americaslibrary.gov/aa/stanton/aa_stanton_friends_1.html HISTORY
In 1851, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton embarked on a collaboration that evolved into one of the most productive working partnerships in U.S. history. As uncompromising women’s rights leaders, they revolutionized the political and social condition of women in American society. Stanton was the leading voice and philosopher of the women’s rights and suffrage movements while Anthony was the powerhouse who commandeered the legions of women who struggled to win the ballot for American women.
During the early 1850s, Anthony also longed for involvement in the abolitionist and women’s rights movements. In the months following her first meeting with Stanton in March 1851, the two women not only developed a deep friendship but also helped each other prepare themselves to change women’s lives. Anthony thrived under Stanton’s tutelage—soaking up her knowledge of politics, the law, philosophy, and rhetoric. Stanton, confined to her home by motherhood (she gave birth to her seventh and last child in 1859), was stimulated by Anthony’s thoughtful critiques of her ideas. Anthony became the propulsive force behind all their activism. She did not permit Stanton to be idle, always pushing her to write one more speech, one more manifesto.
As would become customary, Anthony, who was unmarried and free of family demands, organized and ran the campaign. She traveled statewide, speaking throughout 54 New York counties. Stanton did the legal research, drafted the literature Anthony distributed, and wrote the speeches for them both. Finally, in 1860, following Stanton’s eloquent speech before the New York state legislature, the Married Women’s Property Law of 1860 became law. Married women gained the right to own property, engage in business, manage their wages and other income, sue and be sued, and be joint guardian of their children.
In 1856, the American Anti-Slavery Society hired Anthony to be its general agent in the state of New York. Until 1861, she and her troupe of antislavery orators (including Stanton) crisscrossed the state, confronting hostile mobs wherever they spoke.
In May 1869, Anthony and Stanton formed the National Woman Suffrage Association, a woman-led organization devoted to obtaining a federal woman suffrage amendment.
From 1868-1870 Anthony and Stanton published the radical women’s rights newspaper The Revolution. Stanton was the principal writer and editor, Anthony the publisher and business manager. Although the paper was a financial failure, it provided a much-needed forum for Stanton and Anthony to broadcast their views to their allies and the public.
During the early 1870s, Anthony and Stanton pursued a strategy that they believed would enfranchise women. The “New Departure” was founded on the premise that the 14th and 15th Amendments guaranteed all citizens the right to vote regardless of gender. Anthony and at least 150 other women tested its constitutionality by casting ballots in the 1872 presidential election. Several weeks later, Anthony was arrested. She was indicted by a grand jury in January 1873 and in June went on trial in Canandaigua, New York. The judge ordered the all-male jury to render a guilty verdict. In her comments to the court, Anthony exposed the trial for the travesty it was. (See excerpt from comments below)
Anthony and Stanton abandoned the New Departure in 1875 when the Supreme Court delivered the Minor v. Happersett verdict. Anthony then focused NWSA suffragists on the campaign for a woman suffrage amendment. In 1878, Stanton wrote and submitted NWSA’s proposed amendment to the U.S. Senate. For the next 40 years, it would be brought before each session of Congress.
In 1891, Anthony made a home with her sister Mary at the family household in Rochester, New York. She hoped that Stanton would come live with them, but her old friend declined, deciding to live with two of her children in New York City. In the 1890s, Stanton was writing to her heart’s content—submitting articles and essays to leading national newspapers and magazines. Her celebrity was at its peak.
In 1895, Stanton published the first volume of the Woman’s Bible, the culmination of her life-long interest in correcting biblical passages that are demeaning to women. It became an immediate bestseller and aroused widespread controversy. Within NAWSA, it ignited a firestorm. Despite Anthony’s protests, the conservative leadership rejected Stanton’s book and voted to censure her.
Two weeks before her 87th birthday, Stanton died of heart failure on October 26, 1902. Anthony was inconsolable. “I am too crushed to speak,” she told a reporter. Anthony’s health was failing, too. In 1900, at age 80, she had suffered a stroke. Though her doctor had warned her to take better care of herself, she decided it would be better to “die in the harness” than to abandon her work. She was no longer president of NAWSA but still supervised most of its management.
In February 1906, the 86-year-old Anthony, ill and weary, delivered her final speech at the annual NAWSA convention in Baltimore. She reminded NAWSA suffragists that the day of women’s enfranchisement was at hand—that “Failure is Impossible.” Weeks later, Anthony succumbed to double pneumonia and heart failure. She died on March 13th. Fourteen more years of ceaseless agitation would be necessary before the 19th Amendment enfranchised women on August 26, 1920.
About the Author: Judith E. Harper, author of Susan B. Anthony: A Biographical Companion (ABC-CLIO, 1998). A graduate of Wellesley College and Boston University, Judith E. Harper specializes in the history of nineteenth-century American women. She is the author of Susan B. Anthony: A Biographical Companion (ABC-CLIO, 1998). She is currently writing The Encyclopedia of Women During the American Civil War. She lives in the Boston area.
Susan B. Anthony, from comments to the Court, 19 June 1873:
“I shall not sit down. I will not lose my only chance to speak.”
Court—”You have been tried, Miss Anthony, by the forms of law, and my decision has been rendered by law.”
Miss Anthony—”Yes, but laws made by men, under a government of men, interpreted by men and for the benefit of men. The only chance women have for justice in this country is to violate the law, as I have done, and as I shall continue to do,” and she struck her hand heavily on the table in emphasis of what she said. “Does your honor suppose that we obeyed the infamous fugitive slave law which forbade to give a cup of cold water to a slave fleeing from his master? I tell you we did not obey it; we fed him and clothed him, and sent him on his way to Canada. So shall we trample all unjust laws under foot. I do not ask the clemency of the court. I came into it to get justice, having failed in this, I demand the full rigors of the law.”
Here are some process images of the piece I have in the EMULSION 2017 exhibition opening Friday, March 3 and closing March 16, 2017. I will be participating in an informal discussion on this piece on Thursday, March 9 sometime between 6:00 and 7:30pm. https://www.facebook.com/events/380502832306923/
The piece is a ladder holding 10 containers (re)constructed from shards of broken vessels, arranged on seven levels in three columns. Inspired by concepts found in the Jewish mystical tradition, the piece comes from the conviction that something fundamentally destructive has happened and a rebuilding must be undertaken. The shard vessels are strange and the original vessels—from which the shards came—are prosaic, kitschy, and often ugly. There is no pattern to follow to create the repair except for failed traditions and institutions, but still, something must be done. There is a pathetic absurdity to the objects and the enterprise; still, the stakes are high and humans must continue to be present and act in the world even when the presence of good is hidden.