How the Susan B. Anthony Tombstone Became a Monument of Hope for Hillary Clinton Supporters

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The grave of women's suffrage leader Susan B. Anthony is covered with "I Voted" stickers left by voters in the U.S. presidential election, at Mount Hope Cemetery in Rochester, New York November 8. Adam Fenster/Reuters

“Bear with me folks. This is gonna be good,” said journalist John Kucko during News 8 WROC’s Facebook Live video. For about eight hours, since 7:15 AM this morning, he’d been shooting live footage of Susan B. Anthony’s grave in Mount Hope Cemetery in Rochester, New York, where parents, children, elderly couples and everyone in between waited one, sometimes two hours to pose for a photo with the tombstone of the iconic women’s rights pioneer. Covered in flowers, cards, American flags and “I voted” stickers, the gravestone has become a monument of pride and hope for Hillary Clinton fans everywhere.

Kucko shifted his camera from the gravesite to a 99-year-old woman in a white pantsuit slowly edging her way to the front of the line. “We have a woman who’s a World War II veteran!” he said. “It doesn’t get better than this!”

“Hello!” Dawn Seymour said to the crowd, leaning on a walker. “Good to see you!” She was born in 1917, three years before women won the right to vote. She graduated from Cornell University and served as a Women Airforce Service Pilot (WASP) in World War II.

Speaking about why she’d come to the cemetery today, she said, “You just don’t realize how Susan B. Anthony’s work affected my life. I was taught by the suffragette teachers,” she said. “I have five children. I was a business executive. I certainly had the door open for me, and I hope I left the door open for you.”

Anthony was a radical reformer who dedicated her life to women’s rights, ending slavery, fighting for education regardless of race, gender or financial status, and advocating for temperance and equal pay for equal work. “When she was advocating to end slavery, she was reviled,” says Deborah Hughes, President and CEO of the National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House in Rochester, New York. “They’d discredit her as mannish, too loud, too strident, not marriageable.”

Sound familiar?

In 1868, Anthony published her own newspaper, The Revolution, with the slogan, “Men, their rights, and nothing more; women, their rights, and nothing less.” Four years later, she was arrested for voting in Rochester. She was tried and convicted—found guilty of being a woman at a time when women couldn’t vote — and fined $100. She never paid that fine.

Today, Anthony is revered as a champion of the women’s suffrage movement, along with fellow activist Elizabeth Cady Stanton. As Anthony said in 1900, “There is no history about which there is so much ignorance as of this great movement for the establishment of equal political rights for women. I hope the twentieth century will see the triumph of our cause.”

Tonight, perhaps, the twenty-first century will witness a new triumph for women.

Seymour smiled brightly as she posed for photos next to Anthony’s grave. A moment later, she stepped away to let someone else have a turn. A long line of women dressed in white, toddlers sucking their thumbs, men in winter coats and multi-generational families snaked through the cemetery. One kid yelled “Susan B!” instead of “Cheese!” And hour after hour, thousands of people watched the scene unfold on Facebook.

A girl in a pink dress lay two red roses on the ground, then she and her mom stuck their “I Voted” stickers on Anthony’s tombstone. “We got her out of school at noon,” the mother said. “It’s about fighting for equity and hopefully some day she’ll also be part of the fight and reap the rewards. It’s about passing a torch.” The girl clings to her mom, looking up at her with a big, toothy grin.

Anthony died in 1906 in the very house in Rochester where she lived for more than 40 years with her mother and sister. Years before that, at a family reunion, she shared some thoughts on her own death: “When it is a funeral, remember that I want there should be no tears. Pass on, and go on with the work.”