“Her Flag” by Marilyn Artus

The National Women’s History Alliance has put together a very thorough newsletter detailing commemorative events broken down by state, as well as a list of relevant media and resources celebrating the centennial through 2020 and into 2021.

Highlights include local projects and celebrations, large-scale art pieces and monuments, museum exhibits and more. The newsletter will also serve as a lasting resource once the month of celebration is through after August 26, 2020, as it contains a wealth of information and links to ongoing projects and educational resources related to women’s history and the suffrage movement.

View suffrage centennial events in each state.


National Women’s Suffrage Month

In coordination with politicians such as Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), Congresswoman Debbie Lesko (R-AZ) and Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence (D-MI), the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission worked to designate August 2020 as National Women’s Suffrage Month!

In celebration of both this designation and the centennial of women’s suffrage in the United States that it represents, the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission has put together a calendar of events, ranging from musical performances and film screenings to conversations with female thought leaders.

This calendar also contains a schedule for podcast episode releases related to the suffrage centennial, such as And Nothing Less hosted by Rosario Dawson and Retta.

It also includes the WSCC’s Forward Into Light Celebration on August 26, when buildings and landmarks across the country will light up in purple and gold in celebration of the centennial. The campaign is named for the historic suffrage slogan, “Forward through the Darkness, Forward into Light.”

View the full calendar.

“’19 the MUSICAL”

Musical website:


Read the article  in full:

In ’19: The Musical,’ women sing and dance their way to suffrage

To mark the centennial of women’s right to vote, Through the 4th Wall stages a feminist civics lesson as a rousing Broadway-style musical

On the day I was to see 19: The Musical—which is about how the amendment granting women the right to vote came to pass in 1920—our Constitution Denier in Chief made a perfectly timed gaffe. There he was at his Oval Office desk surrounded by women who had come to watch him put his Sharpie to the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commemorative Coin Act—a bill that would direct Treasury to mint a special one-dollar coin (which had worked out so well for Susan B. Anthony).

Upon signing, a stumped Trump asked in all seriousness: “I’m curious why wasn’t it done a long time ago?”—the meaning of the word centennial apparently out of reach of his brain.  Then, in all self-servingness: “I guess the answer to that is because now I’m president, we get things done.”

19: The Musical has a presidential character nearly as alarming a buffoon: the pompous Woodrow Wilson (Brian Lyons-Burke in top hat), who famously stalled women’s suffrage and jailed and tortured suffragists. At odd moments the musical has him muttering to anyone in earshot, “Mansplain, mansplain, mansplain.” He may be historically a dick,  but here he’s the butt of the joke.

For nearly three years, Jennifer Schwed and Doug Bradshaw (book and lyrics) and Charlie Barnett (music) have been collaborating on a musical that would popularize the much-ignored story of the courageous women who fought for decades against a system stacked against them to get the right to vote. The idea was to have it ready by the women’s suffrage centennial next year. Notable figures in this struggle—such as Alice Paul, Lucy Burns, Carrie Chapman Catt, and Ida B. Wells—would be brought to life in scenes and show tunes together with a chorus of dancers and singers.

Scene from ’19: The Musical.’ Photo by John Meyers.

Portions of the work in progress have been presented in more than 30 workshop productions. I reported on one at 1st Stage last January, which was when I first recognized not only the outstanding songwriting gifts of the creators but also the enormous challenge they had undertaken: to reconcile the requirements of a song-and-dance Broadway-style musical with the underlying gravitas and hostility in the history of women’s suffrage, which in fact had taken a punishing path to its happyish ending. Now aptly at the National Museum for Women and the Arts (though on a small stage not well equipped for live theater), the full two acts with book intact had their world premiere, and the creators’ material could be appreciated more clearly—even when at times the execution got in its way.

The musical begins at the end, right after the 19th Amendment has passed, with an opening number that is inspired. The stage fills with women wearing black-and-white T-shirts that say Suffragist and singing a lighthearted ditty to a tune you could do the Charleston to, “19 (We Won).” It’s about how inequality “will soon be over”:

The 19th Amendment makes our gender ascendant!…
Our fight for equal rights is done!…
We should have equal pay within the year!…

This witty sendup of over-optimism, accompanied by over-ebullient choreography, gets the show off to a smart start. You just know a reality check is coming. Indeed, a savvy apparition appears—Susan B. Anthony, who in history did not live to see suffrage but who here as “Sue B” (Brenda Parker) warns the revelers in song that it’s not going to be “Easy.”

Scene from ’19: The Musical.’ Center: Brenda Parker (Susan B. Anthony). Photo by John Meyers.

We next meet a central figure in the struggle, Alice Paul, here nicknamed “AP” (Katie Ganem), who sings a beautiful ballad as a letter to her Mother (Karen Bralove) about her aspirations for equality and freedom (“Dear Mama”). Her fierce determination will lead a movement (and, coincidentally, propel the musical’s book) with a seriousness of purpose. AP teams up with Lucy Burns (Krystle Cruz) in a winking vaudeville-style number called “Partners in Crime.” Together they launch the National Women’s Party and the stage fills again with singers singing and dancers dancing to a rousing womanifesto, “New World Order.”

This buoying up of spirits will become a musical motif of the show as it turns its attention to the daunting conflicts—both external and internal—that the real-life movement faced.

The first of those conflicts is dramatized with the introduction of Carrie Chapman Catt (Maria Ciarrocchi), whose conservative blouse and skirt reflect her politics (“I’m Prim, So What”). Though Catt’s got plenty of grit (“You best not mess with me!”), she contrasts with the radical activism of AP and Burns (who will later wear a T-shirt saying Feminist AF). Subsequently in the show a tactical difference will divide them: Catt wants a cautious state-by-state approach to women’s suffrage; Paul insists the focus be federal. Here, in another upbeat song-and-dance number, the musical cleverly depicts the stresses and successes of coalition-building toward a common goal (“Two Sides of the Same Coin”).

A visit to London proves a sobering turning point. The American suffragists meet with British suffragists, in the persons of Christabel Pankhurst (Elizabeth Keith) and Emeline Pankhurst (Millicent Scarlett), who had been brutally jailed for public protests. “Power responds only to pressure,” Christabel tells them, meaning power will crack down on dissent. The Americans get the point, which is underscored when foremother Sue B reappears to spur them to civil disobedience: “Don’t make my mistakes… The right is more precious than peace.” Later AP will address a rally of women activists about what the future may hold: “I cannot guarantee you your safety. I cannot guarantee you your life.” And the show as essential feminist civics lesson gets a whole lot more real.

Scene from ’19: The Musical.’ Center: Millicent Scarlett (Ida B. Wells). Photo by John Meyers.

With the introduction of Ida B. Wells (Millicent Scarlett), the show confronts the racism of white suffragists head-on. Born in slavery and raised as a free woman, Wells became an important journalist of the era and was devoted to Black liberation. Here the character functions as the show’s conscience. When a major suffrage demonstration is being planned, AP critically decides that Wells should not march in front, so as not to lose the support of “white Southern ladies.” Several gorgeous songs express Wells’s dismay—and Scarlett’s vocals are powerful—”Will You Be Here for Me” and “Put Yourself in My Shoes,” in which AP pointedly stands her ground. Finally AP decides Wells can march in the rear with the  Howard University contingent. “I’ll march where I damn please” is Wells’s response:

Don’t talk to me about your pain… How dare you ask me to wait?… No more can I stand for this privileged equality… Only the Black woman can say when and where I enter.

That last line references the title of a work by the African American historian Paula Giddings, and it’s just one example of the many quotes tucked insightfully into the script. Another is a line the book gives to Alice Paul—”Courage in a woman is often mistaken for insanity”—which was actually what a male shrink said when refusing Woodrow Wilson’s order to declare her crazy.

The show includes some very dark episodes in the struggle, indelible reminders of just how brave these women were. In silhouette, backlit by red light, we see women political prisoners who have gone on hunger strike (“Jailed for Freedom”) being forcibly funnel-fed. Similarly in silhouette we see women arrested at a protest being pummeled by cops with billy clubs. “Protest, arrest, release, repeat” goes the refrain of another song-and-dance number (“Release & Repeat”), this time devoid of naive cheer.

During a visit to Wilson’s office, Alice Paul is amusingly met with the aforementioned mansplaining plus musical condescension: “Be a Sensible Girl,” he sings, backed up by a bouncy chorus line in polka dots. Preoccupied with a gathering war in Germany, Wilson is unsympathetic to her cause. “La la la” he says, plugging his ears to tune her out. Unimpressed, AP later calls him a “charlatan, fraud, hypocrite.” Only massive public pressure—which included a silent protest at the White House (“Silence”)—was to change presidential and congressional minds. But that pressure came at a great cost for movement sheros, who in 1917 were viciously imprisoned and tortured at the Lorton jail in Northern Virginia. (A museum near the site will open next year.)

After the embarrassment of that “night of terror,” Congress passed the 19th Amendment, leaving it up to at least 36 of the states to ratify. The nailbiter came down to Tennessee, where the outcome would be decided by the vote of one tiebreaker: Representative Harry Burn (Gregory Scott Stuart). In one of the most amusing and touching scenes, he is schooled by his mother (Scarlett) in the beautiful “Listen to Your Mother”—and he comes around.

There follow more big musical numbers of celebration and empowerment including a “Reclaiming Our Time” chorale and a very moving “My country, ’tis of thee, / Sweet land of liberty, / Of thee I sing…” When near the end Alice Paul reads the actual text of the 19th Amendment, it comes not with the fizzy optimism of the beginning but with deep emotion well earned:

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

19: The Musical reclaims a time when women fought like hell and paid a price so that women today can go to the polls—even if like most white women in America three years ago they vote a racist idiot into the White House. The book is sturdy, the lyrics are skillful, the score is first rate. I’ve listened to and enjoyed the preliminary cast album over and over on Spotify (see link below). It’s terrific.

That said, the show feels long, and the boost-your-spirits musical numbers get repetitive. Worse, the choreography was too show-off-y for this small stage, too cutesy, and did not so much enhance the storytelling as distract from it.  At times it was as if Busby Berkley and June Taylor had a quarrel and no one won. The production of this musical needs to trust more the substance of its storyline. There’s too much ingratiating, too much making nice.

The creators are raising funds to do an industry reading in New York for Broadway investors, producers, and directors. My hope for this show is that it secures such professional backing and that its next iteration will be a production conception worthy of the very promising material. (Click here to make a tax-deductible donation.)

Musical Numbers

19 (We Won)
Dear Mama
The Reasons
Partners in Crime
New World Order
I’m Prim, So What
No Matter the Price
Will You Be Here for Me
Put Yourself in My Shoes

Will You Be Here for Me (Reprise)
The Bloody March
Liberty For Inez
Dear Mama (Inez Reprise)
Two Sides of the Same Coin
Sensible Girl
The War at Home
Right Women, Right Time
Dear Lucy
Release & Repeat
Victory Will Be Mine
Damned if I Do
Release & Repeat (Reprise)
Reclaiming My Time
Night of Terror
Jailed for Freedom
Hypocrite’s Tango
Easy (Reprise)
19 (Reprise)
So Close
Listen to Your Mother
Dear Mama/19 (Reprise)
Easy (Reprise)
Reclaiming Our Time (Reprise)

Alice Paul (aka AP): Katie Ganem
Carrie Chapman Catt: Maria Ciarrocchi
Emmeline Pankhurst / Ida B. Wells: Millicent Scarlett
Lucy Burns: Krystle Cruz
Sue B. Anthony (aka Sue B): Brenda Parker
Christabel Pankhurst / Inez Milholland: Elizabeth Keith
President Woodrow Wilson / Dr. Gannon: Brian Lyons-Burke
Police Chief Sylvester / Representative Harry Burn: Gregory Scott Stuart
Chorus & Dancers: CinCin Fang, Haylee Green, Raquel Jennings (swing), Danielle Marquis, Angela Norris, Reyina Senatus, Katy Sherlach, Elizabeth Spikes, Rebecca Weiss, Katie Zajic
Ensemble: Alexis Primus, Katy Sherlach
Mother / Ensemble: Karen Bralove

Production Team 

Jennifer Schwed: Writer/Lyricist/Director/Producer
Doug Bradshaw: Writer/Lyricist/Director/Producer
Charlie Barnett: Composer/MusicalDirector/Arranger/ Piano/Producer

Costumes: Jennifer Schwed
Lighting Design: Dan Martin
Sound: Turner Bridgforth
Vocal Captain: Millicent Scarlett
Choreography: Danielle Marquis, Angela Norris
Dance Captain: Kristen Briscoe
Stage Manager: Elise Edwards

Running Time: Two hours 35 minutes, including one intermission.

19: The Musical played November 25 to 27, 2019, presented by Through the 4th Wall Productions performing at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, 1250 New York Avenue NW, Washington. DC.



Album: “Shoulder to Shoulder: Centennial Tribute to Women’s Suffrage from the Karrin Allyson Sextet”

Read this August 30, 2019  Billboard exclusive about the release of Shoulder to Shoulder: Centennial Tribute to Women’s Suffrage from the Karrin Allyson Sextet. Album download is here.

Song list:



01. Preamble
02. The March of the Women
03. The Great Convention (featuring Madeleine Peyroux, Denise Donatelli)
04. Susan B. Anthony (1873) read by Rosanne Cash
05. I’ll Be No Submissive Wife
06. Frederick Douglass (1888) read by Harry Belafonte
07. Anti Suffrage Rose (featuring Veronica Swift)
08. She’s Good Enough To Be Your Baby’s Mother
09. Elihu Root (1894) read by Peter Eldridge
10. Columbia’s Daughters
11. Sojourner Truth (1851) read by Lalah Hathaway
12: Intro to The Promised Land (featuring Antonia Bennett, Emily Estefan, Kate Reid) 13. The Promised Land (featuring Pauline Jean)
14. Winning the Vote (featuring Kurt Elling)
15. Alice Paul (1921) read by Julie Swidler
16. Way Down Below (featuring Regina Carter)
17. Big Discount (featuring Rapsody)

ARTICLE: “Whitman, Melville & Julia Ward Howe: A Tale of Three Bicentennials

May 27, 2019

For the New York Review of Books, author Elaine Showalter writes of the three literary bicentennials of 2019 and the excursions, conferences and exhibitions mounted to celebrate the legacies of two of them, Walt Whitman and Herman Melville. Showalter offers instead an appraisal of the life and legacy of Julia Ward Howe, a revered leader of the suffrage movement, a third American writer “who will not be so honored.” Howe was born into wealth in New York City on May 27, 1819 and died October 17, 1910, as the sixty-year-old suffrage movement moved with renewed force into its final, victorious lap. She wrote the lyrics to the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and three volumes of poetry, which, Showalter said, got the critical reception of most women writers of the period. She quotes the assessment of literary historian Paula Bernat Bennett that “no group of writers in United States literary history has been subject to more consistent denigration than nineteenth-century women, especially the poets.” Howe was also an activist for civil rights and world peace.

MUSIC, ANIMATION: Dolly Parton’s “Nineteenth Amendment” Song

WNYC Animation Studio

By Maya Adelman

Here are the lyrics to Dolly Parton’s “Nineteenth Amendment” as posted by WNYC Studios on Sept. 18, 2018.

Watch on YouTube

Lyrics to 19th Amendment by Dolly Parton

Listen to the song on


Intro: (Male Voice) August 18, 1920: Woman Suffrage Amendment Ratified


Women have been fighting for the legal right to vote since the 1840’s. In 1890 the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) was established with Susan B. Anthony its leading force. But women have been fighting for their rights since the very beginning of time.


Verse 1

First they said we couldn’t dance,

Then said we couldn’t drink.

And unless some man allowed it,

They said we couldn’t think.

They said we shouldn’t speak ‘Til we were spoken to.

Well, there was just so much back then We weren’t allowed to do.



But the first bite of that apple I guess revealed the truth.

That’s when Eve got smart

And that’s why Adam don’t like fruit.

But that ol’ tree of knowledge

Had some limbs that broke.

We had to fight for women’s rights,

They said we couldn’t vote.


It is the duty of the women of this country to secure for themselves the sacred right to vote.



We’ve carried signs, we’ve cussed at times,

Marched up and down the streets.

We had to fight for women’s rights,

Wore blisters on our feet.

We got tired of seein’ all our dreams go up in smoke,

Burdens more than we could tote

Having lies crammed down our throats.

But that ol’ dam finally broke

When women finally got the right to vote.

Do-do, Do, Do, Do-De-De-Do, Da-Da-Da, Da-Da


Verse 2

They said a woman’s place

Was staying in her hut.

Washin’, cookin’, cleanin’,

Wipin’ baby’s butts.

They said she’d never see the day

We’d equal up to them.

But here we are, we’ve come so far.

I guess we sure showed them.



The first bite of that apple I guess revealed the truth.

That’s when Eve got smart

And that’s why Adam don’t like fruit.

But that ol’ tree of knowledge

Had some limbs that broke.

We had to fight for women’s right

They said we couldn’t vote.



We were defiant, I’ll admit;

But we all knew we couldn’t quit.

‘Cause the suffrage amendment must be passed.

We protested, we cried out,

Finally it came about

Ratified by Tennessee, we won at last.



And the first bite of that apple

I guess revealed the truth.

That’s when Eve got smart

And that’s why Adam don’t like fruit.

But that ol’ tree of knowledge

Had some limbs that broke.

We had to fight for women’s rights

We won the right to vote.



They thought we were a joke.

They tried to dash our hopes.

With every word they spoke.

They tried to revoke

A woman’s right to vote.


But we made it!


Library of Congress: Suffragists in Song

The blog of the Library of Congress has highlighted its vast collection of suffrage sheet music in this blog post of March 25.  It begins:

“Our colleague Cait Miller published a pair of delightful posts about songs in the women’s suffrage movement over on the “In the Muse” blog recently, the most recent of which is here. But it being Women’s History Month, we just had to know more about one of the sheet music covers she featured  — the one with the remarkable title, ‘She’s Good Enough to be Your Baby’s Mother and She’s Good Enough to Vote with You.’

Lady Gaga Parody: Caught in a Bad Romance ‘Til We Have Suffrage

Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” is an infectious hit that easily gets stuck in your head. So it’s no wonder that Soomo Learning, an education company, decided to create a parody version for use as a teaching tool. Soomo Learning created the song, which has been watched over a million times, to teach students about the push to pass the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote.

The parody video, which won the Emmy for Informational or Instructional Program at the 27th Annual MidSouth Emmy Awards, features Meredith Garrison as Alice Paul, the women’s suffrage activist. Garrison as Paul sings:

Hey! We’ll raise our banner
Across this land hey!
‘Cause franchise isn’t just
The right of a man

It shows women activists marching for their right to vote, and also depicts efforts to suppress them.

Soomo Learning has put together an easy-to-use website about the parody, complete with sample lessons for teachers and lyrics.

In 2015, Sony/ATV, which published Lady Gaga’s song, filed a copyright claim with YouTube, which eventually took down the Soomo Learning parody, as the education company explains in a blog post. However, numerous copies of the parody exist online.