Tuesday, July 1, 2008


Original Link: http://clintondems.com/2008/06/celebrate-seneca-falls-stand-up-for-senator-clinton/

On March 25, 1911, a tragedy struck the city of New York that forever changed the Women’s Movement. Near closing time, from an unknown source, a fire ripped through the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, killing 146 people. Of those, 126 were women. Though valiant efforts were made to save the Triangle workers, a locked exit and inadequate fire escapes doomed many of the immigrant men and women that worked there. The grizzly scene of young girls holding hands with their coworkers, leaping to their deaths, rather than face the flames behind them, their burned and mangled bodies strewn upon the sidewalk, shocked the nation.

The women’s labor movement had been called to action two years earlier by Clara Lemlich, a 19 year old Ukranian Jewish immigrant who had been savagely beaten for her union involvement. Her modest but impassioned call for a vote for action began a shirtwaist makers’ strike that rocked New York City. The movement found new force in the deaths of the young women in the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, an event which also drove the final push in the fight to secure the right of franchise for women in America, as was seen at the 1912 New York City March for Suffrage. Some 20,000 people marched. A reported half million lined the streets. But the coals that stoked the fires of these movements were not kindled on those ill fated floors of the Asch Building in Manhattan. The match was struck upstate, with relative quiet, 63 years earlier in the town of Seneca Falls.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott found themselves in a situation oft repeated in the past 160 years. Denied seats at the 1840 anti-slavery convention in London, due to their gender, Mott and Stanton agreed that a convention on women’s rights needed to be held. Eight years later it came to pass, the result of Mott visiting family not far from Stanton’s home in Seneca Falls, New York.

The call was unassuming. An unsigned notice was placed in the local paper advertising the convention. Three hundred-forty women and forty men, most from within a five mile radius, attended the convention.

The task of constructing a declarative document fell upon Stanton. Using the Declaration of Independence as her guide she constructed what she entitled the Declaration of Sentiments. Within this document lay the undeniable and unshakable truth still contested by the ignorant today (some of whom can be seen blathering away on an almost daily basis on cable television news networks): “All men and all women are created equal.”

One hundred and forty-seven years later, then First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, went to Beijing to address an international women’s conference themed, “Listen to the Women.” In a singular act of bravery, and at great political and personal risk, Senator Clinton, standing on the shoulders of Stanton, Mott, Anthony, Lemlich, Roosevelt and others too many to name, changed the course of the conversation of women’s rights forever. Echoing Stanton’s declaration she proclaimed to the world; “Women’s rights are human rights, and human rights are women’s rights.”

In other words, women’s rights: they’re not just for women anymore.

It is no longer acceptable to discuss women’s rights as being owned solely by women. This is an issue of what it means to be human. In 1995 Hillary Clinton made it plain that it is no longer acceptable for anyone, regardless of gender, skin color, religion, sexual orientation, age, nationality, or creed to be oppressed whether it be physically, emotionally, sexually, or economically, and that it is time for all of us to take responsibility for protecting and defending each other’s rights to live lives of freedom and equality. Whether it is being paid equal wages for equal time, access to the same employment opportunities, or to share our lives with the partners of our choice, every American citizen should have equal protection under the Constitution of the United States, and every citizen of the world should be recognized as having equal protection of their inalienable human rights. There is only one race; the human race. When the rights of one human are violated, we are all violated. When one of us has obstacles thrown up against them, is oppressed, insulted, attacked, or enslaved then we are obligated by our mutual humanity to stand up in their defense. That is what Dr. King saw from the top of the mountain.

When Senator Clinton entered the 2008 Presidential Race she asked America to join her in a conversation, a conversation that began 160 years ago in Seneca Falls, New York. On July 19, 2008, the 160th anniversary of Seneca Falls, we ask you to continue that conversation. We ask you to gather together with your friends, your neighbors, your community, your country. We ask you to look at yourselves, look at your nation, look at your world, and take up the path that Hillary laid before us in Beijing. Gather in your homes, in parks, on the street. Make yourselves visible. Make your voices heard.

We also ask you to continue to strengthen and empower Senator Clinton so that she can continue to lead and be a part of the conversation, so that she can continue to be an independent voice for the kind of real change that America, that the world needs to embrace. Senator Clinton has said that the thing that kept her going through the long months of campaigning was knowing she had an army behind her. We have all proudly said at some point, “Hillary we’ve got your back.” We must continue to do so. We must not forget that had the DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee seated the Michigan and Florida delegations at full strength, and with fair reflection of the votes cast, that Senator Clinton would have ended the Primary Season leading in pledged delegates 1725 to 1707.

Let us show the Democratic Party to whom we give our allegiance. We give it to Democracy. We give it to our nation. We give it Hillary Rodham Clinton so that she can continue to fight for our cause, so that she can continue to speak for those whom the system will not hear, so that she can continue to defend our most sacred right as Americans, the right that women began to fight for in 1848, and that Hillary has been continuing to fight for in 2008; that our right to vote is preserved, is respected, is sacrosanct. That every single vote that is cast is counted, and that every single vote that is counted is reflected fairly, regardless of who casts that vote, or for whom it is cast.

Come to the defense of Senator Clinton, and come rejoin the conversation.

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