Fayetteville NOW did an amazing play as a Women’s Equality Day Observation event. Miss Ethelyn Baker outdid herself with a reenactment of the two day 1848 Seneca Falls Women’s Convention in New York. The first ‘day,’ the actors introduced themselves and shared their ‘sentiments.’ The second ‘day,’ they worked on and announced the ‘resolutions.’
The 13 women in the play, played by Fayetteville NOW members (including Miss Baker), used the whole room from front to back, including with some of the women seated in the audience. The women moved around as necessary, and the audience sometimes had to shift in their seats, making them feel as if they were really part of the event.
In the original women’s convention, men were only allowed the second day. Men were allowed for the whole reenactment event; however, they were segregated. See picture.
Various famous and less famous women from the suffrage movement were included.
Here is Maria Cantu as Dr. Anna Julia Cooper, an American author, educator, sociologist, speaker, Black Liberation activist, and one of the most prominent African-American scholars in United States history. Cooper had been born in Raleigh, and had gone to what is now St. Augustines in Raleigh. Cooper went on to Sorbonne in Paris and was the 4th black woman (or American woman??) to get a PhD at 67 years old! She wrote her dissertation in French.
According to Britannica,
“Cooper was the daughter of a slave woman and her white slaveholder (or his brother). In 1868 she enrolled in the newly established Saint Augustine’s Normal School and Collegiate Institute (now Saint Augustine’s University), a school for freed slaves. She quickly distinguished herself as an excellent student, and, in addition to her studies, she began teaching mathematics part-time at age 10. While enrolled at Saint Augustine’s, she had a feminist awakening when she realized that her male classmates were encouraged to study a more rigorous curriculum than were the female students. After that early realization, she spent the rest of her life advocating for the education of black women.”
Read more about the event in the Fayetteville Observer at “Fayetteville NOW production revisits early feminist movement“
Appreciating Quakers on Women’s Equality Day.
Quakers came up repeatedly at the Women’s Equality Day Observance in Fayetteville, since the Quakers had the most equitable roles for women at the time, and many of the prominent women were Quakers. The Fayetteville NOW chapter has long worked with the Quakers in Fayetteville, and the Fayetteville Quakers did table at the event.
As stated in Wikipedia under “Quaker Views on Women,”
“Quaker views on women have always been considered progressive in their own time (beginning in the 17th century), and in the late 19th century this tendency bore fruit in the prominence of Quaker women in the American women’s rights movement.”
“The early history of attitudes towards gender in the Religious Society of Friends (aka Quakers) is particularly notable for providing for one of the largest and most equitable roles for women in the Christian tradition at the time, despite not endorsing universal equality until much later.” (Also Wikipedia)
A wonderful way to learn about the fight for basic women’s rights
Jenn Alexander played suffragette Lucy Burns, a zealous political organizer who helped forge support for a federal constitutional amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote. She was a passionate activist in the United States and in the United Kingdom. Burns was a close friend of Alice Paul.
According to the Fayetteville Observer article, Jenn Alexander said, “I think the best part about it is the way we did the play made it easy for people to see the suffragists as real people.”
See the actors and roles in the Equality Day Program 2019.v5
NC NOW President Gailya Paliga read the Proclamation of Women’s Equality Day from the City. See the Proclamation pdf – Proclamation.WED.Fay.2019