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Shapers of the Great Debate on Women's Rights: A Biographical Dictionary
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AUTHOR’S NOTE I teach so that others may learn. The courses permit me to immerse my stu- dents in issues of inequity, prejudice, and that elusive concept, social justice. Each semester, students are required to create an oral presentation on a his- toric period and the activist players of that era. And, each semester, I am consistently appalled at how miniscule their understanding of the linearity of history and fear that the adage about ‘‘doomed to repeat it’’ will, indeed, reach fruition. Few have heard of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Alice Paul, or Margaret Sanger some are aware of Susan B. Anthony but only because she was featured on a short-lived coin. A small percentage has knowledge that the Constitution can be changed but no concept of how those changes are effected or how many changes exist. Across the board, they fail to iden- tify the Nineteenth Amendment. Early in the term, I ask for a show of hands concerning voting. The major- ity, if they were of age at the time, voted in the last presidential election but when queried about state elections, hands dropped and when city government was mentioned, only a smattering admitted to selecting city offi- cials. I pay particular attention to the women students, many of whom lament that politics is disinteresting and a waste of their time. As a rule, they are totally unaware of the sacrifices that were made in order for them to be disinterested. Since most traditional-aged college students cannot remember using a typewriter or living without a cell phone and text messaging or suffering through the dog day heat of August without air conditioning, it is not sur- prising that centuries old ancient history is of little consequence to what they consider important. These young women matured in the Age of Entitlement, when they were told they could be whatever they wanted if they were willing to apply themselves to the task. Although that assumption is still not univer- sally true, their lives are light years removed from their foremothers’. They have no collective memory of an era when women could not own property or money, when they had little decision making power regarding the upbringing of their children, when they were discouraged or forbidden from