Thanks to all who helped make this year's 9th annual Westchester Women's Equality Day Reformed ceremony such a success! Held once again at the County Board of Legislators' Michaelian Building in White Plains, the day's events, its speakers and honored guests were preceded by a pre-ceremony invitation to visit the 9th floor offices of County Executive Rob Astorino, an original sponsor of the reformed event.
If you could not participate in person, here is a partial transcript.
(Co-chairperson Judith Anderson:)
Our Westchester Women’s Equality Day Reformed Committee welcomes you and thanks you for taking time to be with us to celebrate this amazing 90th anniversary of woman’s suffrage. It was on August 26, 1920 that the faith, foresight and fortitude of Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Lurectia Mott and others were rewarded with full citizenship and participation through the granting of voting rights to women with the Ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution! Each ceremony for the last eight years has been uniquely gratifying for this Committee, and we hope for you as well. This, our 9th year, is no exception. Our theme is “Calling Youth to Excellence in Education and Life”. Our honoree epitomizes that vision – longtime educator
and champion for youth, Dr. Catherine Hickey. Our wonderful keynote speaker is pediatrician Antoinette Cosentino, M.D. Her views and forthright approach to the day’s topic will give us all much to think and pray about during these challenging times.
We would first like to introduce those whose annual sponsorship allows us this space under equal access and free speech. This year we are thrilled to have three sponsors who will say a few words to us – our first is the Hon. Gordon A. Burrows of the County Board’s District 15. We also welcome the Hon. John G. Testa, District 1, and our most recently elected member of the County Board of Legislators, the Hon. Sheila Marcotte of District 10. Thank you, all.
John Testa, Gordon Burrows, Sheila Marcotte
This time last year our earliest WEDR sponsor at the Board, Rob Astorino, was a candidate for Westchester County Executive. We congratulate Rob on his election victory, and we ask you all to keep him in our prayers during these difficult County budget cuts. We also thank him for meeting with us to wish us well prior to today's ceremony where he presented Dr. Hickey with a County Proclamation. Thank you, again, Rob.
Another important point. Regina Riely usually holds down the feminists-for-life fort with us on this day. She is in Wisconsin, but sends her regards to all. We miss her especially since it was through her work and subsequent successful lawsuit that we have been able to present these programs every year since at these, our citizens’ County offices.
With us today as co-MC is a familiar face, author Susan Konig. Susan, busy Mom of 4 children, author and columnist, was our memorable keynote speaker five years ago at Women’s Equality Day Reformed. Last year she ran for a County Board seat for District 9, losing to her opponent by only 12 votes! Thank you, Susan, and thanks to you all for joining us today – you are vital to the cause for life.
Now we will officially begin with our Invocation by Sister Mary McCaffrey of the John F. Kennedy High School in Somers.
Susan Konig will now lead us in the Pledge and National Anthem. Please stand.
(Co-chairperson Susan Konig continues:)
Most of you know that in 2006 Carol Crossed, President of the Susan B. Anthony Birthplace Museum and one of our first keynote speakers, purchased the original Anthony house in Adams, Massachusetts. The Museum that includes a pro-life exhibit and is now open. There are fliers in the front of the room, or you can find the museum online at www.susanbanthonybirthplace.org Carol, a previous WEDR speaker, has agreed to be our guest speaker next year – our 10th anniversary! There is also the possibility of an online article on the 90th anniversary that I am working on for National Review with Carol.
The previous recipients of our Mott-Stanton-Anthony award are listed in your
program this year, along with a commemorative bookmark for you! A special welcome
to Theresa Bonopartis and Mrs. Dorothea Muccigrosso who join us today in person.
Mildred Fay Jefferson, M.D. - surgeon, political activist & educator;
Lisa Marrero, M.D. - physician, Elinor Martin Residence counselor;
Dorothea Muccigrosso - educator, multi-cultural motivator;
The Domincan Sisters of Hawthorne at Rosary Hill Home – palliative end-of-life
caregivers to all in need;
Christine Mortell-Plazas – courageous prolife witness and women’s interracial business collaborator;
Gabrielle Long Wright - midwife and Natural Family Planning instructor;
Rev. Geneva Patterson – pastor, worker and friend in service to incarcerated women
and the community;
Theresa Bonopartis – professional woman and advocate for post-abortive women
Today’s honoree, of course, is inspirational educator and mentor to youth,
Dr. Catherine Hickey
It was during the American Revolution that the notion of “republican motherhood”
came to the fore, that is, the essential role of mothers in instilling in their children
values conducive to a healthy Republic. As the saying goes, “Everything old is
new again,” for this sense of values necessary for a “healthy” society is challenging
us as a Republic today in ways we could not have imagined.
Fast-forward history. Most of you know that Mott, Stanton and Anthony were
involved with the abolitionist and temperance movements of their day. It was that
activism that led them into the fight for a woman’s right to vote that had begun earlier
in England. These early feminists in America courageously challenged the laws that
excluded them. The words of many of the suffragettes sought to elevate women, and
protect the vulnerable child in the womb. Despite what you hear – or rather don’t
hear - pro-life feminism is a most authentic part of our American history!
90 years and 37 years after Roe, we are asking women and men to see their roles
in society reflected in the lives of children as their primary protectors, and hopefully
inspirational role models. Women saw the problem of exclusion so clearly when
their voices were stifled as half-citizens. Today women have the vote, but the
problem now is excluding the unborn as not fully human. Will women and men share life-affirming values? Will the next generation find grounding in a morality that
elevates human dignity that is ours from the Creator God in our Constitution?
As the first guardians of life women have always possessed a power and
responsibility that goes beyond self. It is a daunting challenge, without doubt,
but one that our feminist fore-mothers saw not as an impediment to personal
fulfillment, but as the ultimate expression of it. So should we all.
(Susan introduces keynote speaker, Antoinette Cosentino, M.D.)
Our guest speaker is a pediatrician graduated from Mt. Sinai School of
Medicine in 1992; she was in private practice in Teaneck, NJ before going into
private practice in Croton in 2002-2009. She is currently at home with her three
children Katherine 10, Anna 5, and Peter 15 months, and her husband Michael
Schwenck, who is a lawyer. She is Board Certified in Pediatrics and a Fellow of the
American Academy of Pediatrics, and we are privileged to have Dr. Antoinette
Cosentino address us today on "Calling Youth to Excellence in Education and Life".
Antoinette gave a wonderful talk with Q&A. Watch for video postings on LifeNet.
Watch for additional video postings, including the presentation by Mrs. Dorothea Muccigrosso to Dr. Hickey and her remarks, along with the day's commentary by Susan and Judy.
Our artist in residence, Brigid Faranda reads and presents the 2010 Mott-Stanton-Anthony award to Dr. Hickey; Judy presented roses on behalf of the HVCL.
Brigid, Susan Konig, Dr. Hickey, Judy
(Judy's closing remarks)
Today we are challenged as never before in our roles in society. Our very identity
as women and men is being questioned in an attempt to offer a gender-neutral
approach to parenting. This is not the equality that our feminist foremothers
envisioned. The expanding number of single-parent families has drawn women into
greater poverty and circumstances of violence. Men and women, both, have become
sandwiched in between the escalating violence to women and the child through
abortion on one end, and male-identity problems on the other side that include
violent acts by men against women who choose to give birth to their child, as well as increasing gang-related violence by young males seeking acceptance, while in need
of strong male role models in their lives.
Ten years from now, at our 100th anniversary of woman's suffrage, will women and men be looking at abortion as legal or as a shared blunder in society?
(Sending by Susan)
Thank you, Dr. Hickey and Dr. Cosentino.
As has been said, I have attended Women’s Equality Day Reformed as a guest
speaker, as a journalist and as a pro-lifer. The thought that women would not be
heard in the home or in the public square 90 years ago is hard for us to fathom.
The thought that pro-life women, mothers, families will not be heard now is even
Women who get up and speak out, like Dr. Cosentino and Dr. Hickey, are central
to our way of life. They will not be bystanders when children are in danger. It’s
easier to hope that someone else will say something or do something. These women
take the tougher road. But it is a road that we all must walk in our own way. So I
urge you to give witness and support in the public square. Reflect on what it means
to be a woman, and share yourselves with others with a feminine dignity that is your
unique gift of self to the world, and thank you for continuing this remarkable American tradition of pro-life feminism, Women’s Equality Day Reformed.
Thank you all for all you do for life and to promote life-affirming choices for women.
Thank you for being part of this day honoring Westchester women.
Additional pictures of some of the day's 40 participants.
Dr. Hickey is flanked by her daughter Clare and granddaughter Delia
Dr. Hickey and Sr. Mary McCaffrey, who gave the invocation
Donna Grau-Dixon and Susan Konig
Joy Dechario and Richard Brand flank Judy Anderson
Yvonne Rivera, Ronnie McNally, Pat Vasta from Holy Name of Mary, Croton-on-Hudson
Ed Riely with Judge Matthew J. Byrne, running for New York State Supreme Court
Dorothea Muccigrosso with Marie Brand
Good fellowship & networking throughout the day! Thanks for your support!