This week, New York State residents are saluting the pioneer who helped U.S. women gain the right to vote, Susan B Anthony.
Late last year, New York State Governor George Pataki signed into law a bill making February 15, Anthony's birthday, a day to recognize her life and legacy.
Anthony was an abolitionist, a labor activist and an educational reformer. But above all, she is remembered for her lifelong effort to win women the right to vote.
Lorie Lachiusa Barnum, executive director of the Susan B. Anthony House in Rochester, New York, says a group of New York State women spearheaded the statewide day of recognition as part of their efforts on behalf of a national day of commemoration. "They collected 15,000 signatures from 45 different states. And they are still pushing. They would still like to have a national holiday. But it seemed to them that Susan B. Anthony, who lived in New York State, and they are from New York States, so why shouldn't New York State give a special holiday or day of recognition," she said.
Anthony worked tirelessly on behalf of women's suffrage or right to vote. She traveled across the nation speaking about women's rights, gathered signatures and petitioned Congress. She once was arrested for voting. Susan B. Anthony died in Rochester before her dream of voting became a reality. "Susan B. Anthony was 86 years old when she died in 1906. The 19th amendment, giving women the right to vote, which is known as the Susan B. Anthony Amendment, was not passed until 14 years later, 1920," she said. "There were women in the country who did have the right to vote because there were states where women had the right to vote. It was just one month before she died when she gave her famous "failure is not possible' speech to urge the young suffragettes to just keep on keeping on."
Ms. Barnum says Susan B. Anthony continues to inspire people and many make pilgrimages to her grave leaving behind wreathes and tokens of their esteem. "What is touching about it is every time I go there is something that someone has left: stones, coins, notes, flags, flowers. Some of the notes the people leave are very touching," she said. "It was her persistence and her drive and her spirit that touches people today. We get people from other countries writing into our Web site. A woman from Indonesia saying, "I just learned about Susan B. Anthony and this has been a light in my life. Every women in the world should know her story."