To see Susan B. Anthony’s legacy, I don’t need to look any further than my home state of Washington.
Emma Smith DeVoe, known to many as the “Mother of Women’s Suffrage,” was just eight years old when she attended a speech by the famed Anthony.
When she asked the crowd to stand if they wanted women to vote, a fired up DeVoe was the first to rise to her feet. She never stopped standing up.
DeVoe, after moving to Washington state, revitalized and spearheaded our state’s successful push for women’s suffrage with a thoughtful, grassroots strategy. Years later, the rest of the country followed the West’s lead, and the 19th Amendment became law.
Her story got me thinking. Throughout American history, we celebrate men and women for their incredible accomplishments. We celebrate the Founders for beginning the greatest experiment in self-governance the world has ever known. We celebrate Rosa Parks for standing up by sitting down, and Martin Luther King, Jr. for having a dream. And we celebrate the suffragists for knowing a woman’s place: inside the voting booth.
But at the time, none of these individuals knew how their battles or their activism would turn out. Without knowing the outcome, they imagined what was possible, did what they knew was right, and worked hard to turn their vision into reality. Susan B. Anthony had no idea that speech, that day, would inspire one of the most influential suffragists-to-be. She didn’t know — or live to see — that in 1920 women across the United States would have the right to vote. She didn’t know that in 2017, we’d be celebrating a century of women in Congress. And she certainly didn’t know that millions of people would one day walk past her statue in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda.
We often make the mistake of thinking the people who lived before us were somehow different than us. But we share the same hopes and fears — especially the fear of the unknown that often comes with new opportunities.
That’s exactly what we have now — opportunity. The American people have given us an incredible moment to think big and reimagine how government functions. Together, as we improve health care, remove red tape, and rethink our tax code, we are writing the history of our country. Much like Susan B. Anthony and our heroes of the past, we have big dreams for America, and we are working hard and doing what’s right so we can see positive changes in people’s lives.
So let’s take a cue from the Clemson huddle — let’s be legendary. Trusting in God and in each other, we will succeed.