I recently witnessed an historical re-enactment of Susan B. Anthony by Linda McKenney at Empire State College. Always in character, Ms. McKenney performs without reference to any notes. She incorporates part of Ms. Anthony’s speeches so seamlessly that you can forget some were delivered more than 150 years ago. She is rich in detail, highlighting the most salient moments of Anthony’s life. She is somber, yet with a sense of humor that captures Anthony’s essence. And McKenney was unflappable during the challenging Q&A session.
I know a lot about the suffragists. But I learned even more from observing McKenney’s spell-binding re-enactment. There were moments when I forgot I wasn’t truly in the presence of the great orator. Every so often, my eyes filled with tears, as she relayed emblematic stories of her courage and how she hopes women today will carry on the unfinished revolution.
She recognized that it was immeasurably more desirable to be honestly and earnestly seeking that which in its attainment might not prove good than to be hypocritically subservient to the truth through a spirit of selfish fear or fawning at the beck of power. She instinctively grasped the truth underlying all great movements which have helped the progress of the ages, and did not wait for an individual nor a cause to win popularity before freely extending to its struggling life a hand of helpful comradeship.
Excerpt from the eulogy
Delivered by the Reverend Anna Howard Shaw
Susan B. Anthony’s Funeral
Rochester, New York, 15 March 1906.
Meet Susan B Anthony
Susan B. Anthony’s personal motto was, “Failure is impossible.”
And I believe that I’ve adopted that motto in my portrayal of her.
Invite me to visit your classroom or group and I will share a glimpse of Susan’s life and her dedication to women’s right to vote.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more and arrange a personal visit from Susan.
Some comments from participants:
The presentation was fantastic and the kids were engaged.
What a great project!
I’ve been to many similar presentations; this was one of the best!
You were very convincing. The acting was superb! You were also very knowledgeable about Susan’s life and struggles.
Here’s a sample: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ONR03OG9ns
Susan Brownell Anthony was a pioneer leader of the cause of woman suffrage, and her energy was tireless in working for what she considered to be the best interests of womankind. At home and abroad she had innumerable friends, not only among those who sympathized with her views, but among those who held opinions radically opposed to her. In recent years her age made it impossible for her to continue active participation in all the movements for the enfranchisement of women with which she had been connected, but she was at the time of her death the Honorary President of the National Woman Suffrage Association, the society which she and Elizabeth Cady Stanton organized in 1869.
Excerpt from the New York Times Obituary