The devotion that Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton showed to the cause of women's suffrage was mirrored in their own close friendship. Disagreements on tactics or strategy never impeded their relationship as they fought together for women's rights.
Their strong, supportive, and compelling 50-year friendship will be commemorated in a unique event presented by the Susan B. Anthony Center for Women's Leadership at the University of Rochester. "Celebrate the Power of Women's Friendships" will also give women the opportunity to salute their own friends and tap the experience of local women leaders.
The event, which takes place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 26, at the Memorial Art Gallery, features the presentation of the first annual "Stanton/Anthony Stand By Me Award" and a silent auction for "Lunch with a Leader." Tickets are $50 per person and $80 for two people and should be reserved by May 21 by calling (585) 275-8799 or registering online at www.rochester.edu/SBA.
"Anthony and Stanton met for the first time in Seneca Falls in May 1851," explained Nora Bredes, director of the Anthony Center. "Their partnership was based on their commitment to equality for women, but it grew into a friendship of deep respect, encouragement, and affection. They inspired each other to take risks and have courage and they combined their strengths to fight for their cause. We will celebrate those qualities and recognize them in contemporary women at this event."
The silent auction will give bidders a chance to take a friend or relative—daughter, sister, mother, or niece, for example—to lunch with a local leader. Among the Rochester women who are participating are Dee Alexander, radio host at WARM 101.3; Lydia Boddie-Rice, manager of pubic affairs and corporate contributions for Rochester Gas & Electric; Ursula Burns, corporate senior vice president and president, Business Operations Group, at Xerox Corp., and a University trustee; Karen Magnuson, editor and vice president/news, for the Democrat and Chronicle; Sandra Parker, president and chief operating officer, Rochester Business Alliance; Ginny Ryan, news anchor, WOKR-TV Channel 13; Naomi Silver, chairman of the board and chief operating officer, Rochester Community Baseball Inc.; U.S. Rep. Louise Slaughter; and Kitty Van Bortel, owner of Van Bortel Subaru and co-owner of Van Bortel Ford. Silent auction bids will also be taken on a lunch and tour for 10 people at The Susan B. Anthony House, the Madison Street home of the suffragist during the most politically active period of her life.
In addition, the recipients of the "Stand By Me" award will be announced during the May 26 event. The award will recognize two women whose friendship, like Stanton and Anthony's, has been inspirational and supportive in meeting new challenges and in furthering causes of equality and justice. Nominations of 200 words or less can be made in prose, poetry, or song and must be submitted by May 21 either by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by regular mail sent to ACWL, RC Box 270435, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY 14627. There is no charge for nominations and the recipients do not need to be present to win.
Vocalist Cindy Miller will perform songs praising friendship during the event. Appearing in venues ranging from small clubs to large concert halls, Miller has shared the stage with singer Julius LaRosa, the Benny Goodman Tribute Band, the Central New York Jazz Ensemble, the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, and other groups. Well-known for her solo musical cabaret shows, Miller also appears regularly with the Gap Mangione Big Band.
Proceeds from the event will benefit Anthony Center programs. In the fall, the Center will present a forum on "Ms. President? Trusting Women to Call the Shots," featuring Marie Wilson, founder of the White House Project. In addition, the Center is sponsoring workshops for community members and students on running for elected office. Funds also will support the Center's "Women Leading Local Governments Initiative," a policy summit in November.