With the 100th anniversary of women winning the right to vote in 2020, New York's women lawmakers hope the state will hold several events to commemorate the historic achievement.
A letter authored by state Sen. Rachel May and signed by Democratic and Republican women legislators asks Gov. Andrew Cuomo to expand the state's celebration of the suffrage centennial by holding several events, including a commemoration at the New York State Fair.
The lawmakers' suggestions include an Empire State Development-I Love NY partnership to develop a women's suffrage-focused tourism plan. The plan would highlight the relevant sites located throughout the state.
They also proposed celebrating the women's suffrage centennial at the New York State Fair. Opening day of the 2020 fair is Aug. 26 — the 100th anniversary of the adoption of the 19th Amendment which prevents federal and state governments from denying citizens the right to vote based on their sex.
May, D-Syracuse, and her colleagues suggested a "women's suffrage presence" throughout the fair and using the fair's famed butter and sand sculptures to honor important figures in the women's rights movement, such as Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Harriet Tubman.
The lawmakers also urged Cuomo to have the state assist local women's suffrage-related projects, especially events that highlight "challenges faced by women of color in the suffrage movement," and for the state to support the Women's Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls.
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The national historical park is expecting a boost in tourism next year due to the centennial celebration. But, May and other legislators explained, there are "grave doubts about funding and continued support from the federal government." New York, they added, "should consider supplementing the park's operations in 2020 as a critical site for observing the centennial."
The final suggestion calls on the state to partner with member nations of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy to highlight their role in the women's suffrage movement in New York and the U.S.
"'Votes for women!' is a cry near and dear to the hearts of New Yorkers of any era," May and her colleagues wrote. "We led the way in securing the vote for women and we are leading the way in showing the country today what rededicating ourselves to universal suffrage looks like. We strongly encourage you to pursue further centennial celebration."
The lawmakers say the events should build on the New York State Women's Suffrage Commission's work. Cuomo established the commission, which is led by Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, to develop ideas for celebrating the 100th anniversary of New York women winning the right to vote.
New York allowed women to vote in 1917 — three years before the 19th Amendment was adopted.