Election 2017

Election 2016: Philly voters leave notes at suffragettes’ graves

Women and girls are making pilgrimages as Hillary Clinton waits to learn if she’ll be the first woman President.

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Prema Gupta
Cassie Owens, Reporter/Curator

Updated at 4:15 p.m.

Do you have a message for Mary Grew? You can leave one today.

The grave sites of historic suffragettes like Grew are being honored this Election Day in light of Hillary Clinton’s candidacy.

Images of voters waiting in line to pay homage to Susan B. Anthony’s grave in Rochester are going viral on social media. But similar pilgrimages are happening in the Philly area, a region with deep ties to the suffrage movement. Mount Airy resident Prema Gupta, inspired by the Anthony tributes, stopped by Lucretia Mott’s grave in North Philly with her daughter after voting this morning.

“It was worth being a little bit late to school and a little late to work,” she says.

For Mary Grew, a lesser known activist in the suffrage movement, staffers at The Woodlands set up boards for visitors to write.

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Jessica Baumert

Grew was a peer of Mott’s. As an abolitionist, she was an organizer in groups and conventions at the national level. She also was a past president of the Pennsylvania Woman Suffrage Association. Normally for Halloween, The Woodlands ties its Family Fun Day programming to notable people buried there. This election year, they picked Grew and welcomed visitors to make suffragette sashes. An intern researched her. They had an info board up for Halloween, but put the message boards up for voters yesterday evening.

Gupta says she and her daughter were alone at Mott’s North Philadelphia resting place. “It was little sad, but it made us glad to be there,” says Gupta.

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Prema Gupta

Gupta and her 7-year-old daughter Leela have been reading the book Grace for President “for years.” In it, Grace wants to know where the girls are on the historic list of commanders-in-chief. Learning the truth, she starts her political career.

Gupta says, like many young girls, Leela doesn’t understand why it’s been this way. “She feels that sense of outrage that there’s never been a been a female president,” says Gupta. So, Leela went in the booth with her mom this morning. And after, they left white flowers for Mott.

Later in the afternoon, Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Jan Hefler tweeted an image of Alice Paul’s headstone, which now has flowers, “I Voted” stickers and a handwritten note.

Billy Penn is keeping an eye on social media for other area tributes. We’ll update this post if we find any; the Delaware Valley also claims suffragettes like Fannie Jackson Coppin (buried in Bala Cynwyd).

Woodlands Executive Director Jessica Baumert went by to see Grew’s grave when she got to work.

“I got a little choked up,” says Baumert. “I wasn’t anticipating that anyone would’ve posted but when I got here there were already a handful of messages left for her. Pretty cool.” Baumert estimates that maybe 50 people or so have stopped by. Here are some of the messages that have been written so far.

“Thank you for the fighting the fight in loneliness— Today, I cast my vote for you and all the women who came before and will come after.”

“Thank you for your bravery and determination. Your hard work is paying off.”

“Tomorrow morning, I’m proud + excited to vote for the first woman president of the United States. I’m not voting for her because she’s a woman but because I fear that not voting for Hillary will mean backward progress for the basic human rights people like you have fought for for so many decades. Thanks.”

“I vote in every election because you fought for my rights. I’m forever grateful.”

“Liberty for ALL. Thank you, Mary.”

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Jessica Baumert

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