Wanda Sobieski

Organizer of the Reenactment of the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848

How was Seneca Falls significant to the Women's Suffrage movement?

It was the first public call for women's right to vote, and caused a storm of ridicule and sarcasm in the press and in the pulpit.

Was St. John's Cathedral, where you're doing the reenactment, one of the churches that objected?

I don't know that particular church's stand, I do know that one of the leading Tennessee suffragists, Lizzie Crozier French, attended church there as a youth, and she was later one of the founders of the Unitarian church here in Knoxville.

Was our state a leader in the movement?

The battle to get women the right to vote took 72 years. Of the people who attended the convention in 1848, only one lived long enough to vote. Tennessee came a little late in the scheme. Elizabeth Avery Meriwether called our first suffrage meeting in 1876, 28 years after Seneca Falls.

Is this a fund-raiser for the Tennessee Woman Suffrage Coalition?

It always at least breaks even. We formed a few years ago after the project to install the suffrage memorial (on Market Square) and we always hope to at least raise some funds for the projects we have underway, like working with the McClung Collection to digitize original material and put it on the web to be available to scholars worldwide.

Broadway and television actor Carol Mayo Jenkins, who's also an artist in residence at University of Tennessee, is directing. Did she draw on her connections?

Carol put together the cast and she's got several equity actors performing. And Frederick Douglas is being played by the Rev. Harold Middlebrook, who's really well known as a civil rights leader in the area—and is very entertaining.

The Seneca Falls Convention reenactment is Aug. 23, 7 p.m., at St. John's Cathedral (413 W. Cumberland Ave.). Tickets are $15; call 546-7770.