An Unfinished Revolution
By Marguerite Kearns member of Plymouth Monthly Meeting
Passing the voting rights torch was important to Edna Buckman Kearns, a young wife, mother and fledgling journalist when she joined New York suffragists demanding the vote in 1910. Edna campaigned from her “Spirit of ’76” wagon and picketed the White House with Alice Paul. Family stories drew her granddaughter Marguerite Kearns to discover more and to pen this engaging, beautifully illustrated, and inspiring glimpse into the life of one engaged woman and her family of the time.
7 x 10 paperback, 332 pages, Excelsior Editions, SUNY Press (State University of New York), 2021, $35 retail.
An Unfinished Revolution - Passing The Torch Of Voting Rights To The Next Generation
An Unfinished Revolution: Edna Buckman Kearns and the Struggle for Women’s Rights by Marguerite Kearns (SUNY Press, 2021) turns a fragmented and decentralized early 20th century voting rights movement into recognition of a long and uphill intergenerational struggle.
This momentum is forging its way through the 21st century, especially in light of increased voting restrictions. The effort of forward direction relies on passing an inspired torch, says the author, a suffrage activist descendant.
“Passing the torch of freedom is a way of viewing voting rights activism that brings together ALL women and men who have built on the accomplishments of one generation and passed the challenges on to the next,” says Marguerite Kearns. She is an award-winning writer, descendant, and author of An Unfinished Revolution. She believes that the women’s rights campaigning of the early 20th century strengthens the efforts to make voting accessible in 2021 and beyond."
”My grandmother Edna Kearns received the freedom torch from prior generations,” according to Kearns. “Edna passed the torch to my grandfather, her two daughters, my mother to me, and me to other family members and beyond by writing the book.” Edna Buckman Kearns is buried with her parents in the Quaker burial ground in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania. They were members of the Quaker community there.
In 1915, women’s voting rights activists from Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey carved a torch out of wood and painted it bronze. They passed this symbolic torch in harbors, the volunteer campaign trail, and many locations to make their point—that the quest for freedom and equality relies on passing an inspired voting rights torch that recognizes the contributions of diverse activists.
During 2020, bipartisan events from the local to the state and national levels in the US celebrated 100 years of women voting from 1920 to 2020. The first woman was elected to the position of Vice President of the United States in 2020. Volunteers and members of numerous bipartisan organizations around the nation and world joined in.
The book, An Unfinished Revolution, views these efforts through the lens of one family starting on 1902. Marguerite launches this story at the age of 10 years when she asks her grandfather to tell her stories about her late grandmother, a New York State suffrage and peace activist. The narrative is carried forward to the present day when the author carries a photo in 2019 in the march. It shows her grandparents in a January 1914 march leaving New York City on its way to Albany, the state capitol.
What one generation couldn’t complete, other generations have moved forward or redefined. Later supporters and advocates have embraced the accomplishments of one generation, appreciated its accomplishments and acknowledged its challenges. They have carried on the effort into the future as an attempt to keep the issues alive and the visions appropriate for the changing times.