November 23, 2016 by Amy Elliott Bragg
Two weeks and nearly 40 suffragists later …
— A2Lintra (@A2Lintra) November 8, 2016
In the disorienting days after the election, #VisitASuffragist felt like something from a past life. Cute idea, strange former self from a hazily-remembered time! Welcome to the real world, where you too will die and be buried someday, your greatest hopes for humankind yet unrealized. FFS.
But this was a petulant thought, borne from grief. In the last couple of weeks, like so many of you, I have tried to drop the bratty attitude, look in the mirror (mental note: more concealer) and ask myself: Okay, so what to do? And I have been Leslie Knope-ing the shit out of my grief, filling virtual binders with further reading, to-do lists, charitable giving plans, upcoming community meetings, phone numbers of representatives, and a log of political action to keep myself accountable. This, too, is likely to feel laughably naïve to a future self. But right now it’s all I’ve got.
A photo posted by monique vdberg (@moppymo) on
I have also continued to add suffragists to the map — stubbornly, compulsively, self-soothingly — which is now national in scope. If you used the hashtag #VisitASuffragist to share a visit to a suffragist’s grave, that grave will be added to the map with as much accuracy as I can muster. I’ve prioritized adding the gravesites of black suffragists, “doubly brave,” as a small way of acknowledging the racism these women faced within the suffrage movement — important to recognize and reckon with after an election where racism and misogyny collided so spectacularly.
Stopped by Lone Fir Cemetery this morning to visit Oregon suffragist Hattie Redmond. Today we are grateful for the hard work of leaders like her who fought for our right to vote. Has anyone else found a suffragist to visit in our region? #visitasuffragist #ivoted #oregonvotes #washingtonvotes #electionday #vote #oregonhistory #pacificnorthwest @thenighttrain
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Though its urgency may seem less keen post-election, I believe this new tradition can transcend our election cycles. Visit a suffragist if you need strength to keep fighting. Visit a suffragist if you’re grieving and need to reflect. (Cemeteries are literally designed for this!) Visit a suffragist with your mom or your daughter or your BFF and then go serve food to the hungry or volunteer at a free health clinic. Stand at a suffragist’s feet while you overcome your phone anxiety (I have it bad!) and call your representative to express your concerns. And if you find a suffragist in your community whose story you want to share, drop a note to firstname.lastname@example.org so I can add it to the map.
My very favorite part of this whole project has been watching people take it upon themselves, from a place of passion and care, to learn about their community’s history and then share what they’ve discovered. It is, forgive my lack of eloquence here, seriously so fucking great. Please keep doing it. We need it right now.
And in the suffragist spirit, here’s what else we need to do:
Support local and statewide efforts to fight voter suppression and gerrymandering. This is the suffrage movement of our time, and it has never been more important. We have a Presidential election but also a new Census coming up in 2020, and that means redistricting. In Michigan, the League of Women Voters of Michigan, Common Cause, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan have been leading anti-voter suppression efforts. Give them your money and your time. You can also find voter rights resources and advocacy at FairVote.org.
Get jazzed about the next wave of women leaders. There were some bright spots on election night, including the elections of Kamala Harris, Tammy Duckworth, and Ihan Omar, the country’s first Somali-American legislator. Who needs your support to run a great race in 2018 and 2020? In Michigan, keep an eye on women leaders like Gretchen Whitmer, Stephanie Chang, Rashida Tlaib, Erika Geiss, and other members of the Michigan Progressive Women’s Caucus. Consider supporting Emily’s List and other groups that are raising up the next generation of women leaders in politics. Especially support women leaders of color; donate to the #Our100 movement, and get acquainted with the many women-led organizations that movement represents.
Call your damn representatives. Make ’em sick of you. Though I have always been pretty politically engaged, I will admit that I have rested on emails, letters, and Tweets to my representatives until basically yesterday, when I finally found the guts to pick up the phone. Folks who’ve staffed Congressional offices agree that the best way to get your voice heard is to CALL. ON. THE PHONE. I’m challenging myself to get comfortable with doing this *all the time.* I challenge you to do the same.
Subscribe to some newspapers. Here’s Anna Clark with a helpful list of pointers about how we can support the free press that is essential to our democracy, at a time when its survival is uncertain.