One hundred years ago this August, after a bitter, decades-long struggle, women in the United States finally got the right to vote. (The 19th Amendment, however, only granted all women the right to vote on paper, and Black women wouldn’t fully be able to exercise it until the Voting Rights Act of 1965.)
The Cabrillo Festival, an annual event in Santa Cruz focused on live performances of new music by some of the world’s most adventurous composers, commissioned Bay Area native Stacy Garrop to write a symphonic work for orchestra and narrator to mark the occasion.
Garrop confessed that at the time she selected the text, she didn’t know about Anthony’s contentious record—how she and other white, middle- and upper-class suffragists excluded Black women from their movement and failed to extract racism from their march towards equality.
“I knew about Susan B. Anthony's background a bit,” Garrop said in an interview with KQED. “But I hadn't dug deep enough to discover all the issues of involving her as the central figurehead for the suffragette movement.”