Helene Swanson, an evangelical Episcopalian, whose activism is an expression of her faith, started her 500-plus mile walk from the Women’s Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls, NY, on July 19, 2012. She plans on arriving in Washington DC on August 26, 2012, the 92nd anniversary of the 19th Amendment—the right for women to vote, the only right guaranteed women by the United States Constitution. Swanson is walking from parish to parish, as an expression of her faith, to bring attention to the need for an Equal Rights Amendment for the full inclusion of women in society and for LBGTQ Rights.
Seneca Falls has nourished abolitionism and feminism since the 1840s. Abolitionist Abby Kelly spoke against slavery at an outdoor rally there in 1843. One of her followers was later convicted of “disorderly and unchristian conduct” for arguing with the local Presbyterian minister about abolition. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Coffin Mott helped organize the first Women’s Rights Convention in 1848. Frederick Douglas’ impassioned support helped the convention pass the Declaration of Sentiments, which proclaimed: “All men and women are created equal.” In 1923 the National Women’s Rights party celebrated the 75th anniversary of the 1848 convention. Alice Paul, imprisoned, beaten, and force fed for protesting President Wilson’s not supporting women’s rights, proposed the Equal Rights Amendment at the 1923 meeting in Seneca Falls.
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