Kent State students study history in New York


(From left) Kent State seniors Valerie Jean, Micheal Risden and Steven Skees lay mulch on the Catholic Charities Vincent House Youth Service playground as part of their community service work in Syracuse, New York on Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013. Photo by Kristi R. Garabrandt.

Kristi R. Garabrandt

A diverse group of students and professors from the Kent, Stark and Ashtabula campuses traveled to upstate New York last week to study the history of the Women’s Rights Movement and the Underground Railroad. While there, they visited the cities of Seneca Falls (the birthplace of women’s rights), Rochester, Farmington, Syracuse, Geneva and Auburn.

Kent State students learned about the Underground Railroad at sites such as Mount Hope Cemetery, where they visited the gravesite of abolitionist Frederick Douglass, the Frederick Douglass Resource Center in Rochester and the Harriet Tubman House. They learned about the Women’s Rights Movement at the Susan B. Anthony House, The Matilda Gage House, a Quaker meeting house and the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

Students also participated in community service work while in New York, helping out at the Catholic Charities in Syracuse doing various jobs such as packing boxes with dishes, blankets and other donated necessities for refugees, making educational packets, organizing donated clothing and laying safety mulch on a playground.

Other stops on the trip included Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, where students viewed the photographic works of Will Wilson, and The ArtRage Gallery in Syracuse to see The Combat Paper Redux, an exhibit with art made by veterans who used their service uniforms to make the paper used in their artwork as a way to heal themselves from the emotional wounds received while serving.

While there, students also attended the induction ceremony for the National Women’s Hall of Fame. Students watched women such as Democratic Party leader Nancy Pelosi, former first lady Betty Ford and Dr. Bernice Resnick Sandler, who was instrumental in the passage of Title IX, which prohibits discrimination in education based on sex, be inducted for the achievements they have made toward equal rights. After the induction ceremony, the students had the chance to meet and talk with the inductees.

Many of the students said after visiting Seneca Falls and the National Women’s Hall of Fame they felt a sense of empowerment and a new understanding of what the Women’s Rights Movement was about. Many of the students were also surprised to learn the Equal Rights Act has never been passed, and the United States is the only industrialized country that has not ratified the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women.

This is the first time this trip has taken place after two years of planning. Kent State professors hope to create a class and have the trip become a yearly event, offering the opportunity for students to learn about the Underground Railroad and the Women’s Rights Movement and how these historical events affect them today.

Contact Kristi R. Garabrandt at [email protected].