Video Writing Prompt: Susan B. Anthony

Stephen Eldridge, TeachHUB

March is Women's History month, and few Americans have done as much for women as Susan B. Anthony. Anthony spent decades advocating women's right to vote. In 1872, Anthony was arrested for voting in that year's presidential election. Although the Judge, Ward Hunt, ran a deeply unfair trial and barred Anthony from speaking in her own defense, she gave an impassioned speech denouncing her conviction, ignoring the judge's interruptions.

In the video below, Christina Kirk performs parts of Anthony's defiant speech, assisted by Josh Brolin as Judge Ward Hunt. This Video Writing Prompt helps students explore the history of women's rights in the United States, and challenges them to better understand historical texts.

Grades 3-5: Women Really Couldn't Vote?

Some students today may be surprised to find out that only 100 years ago, women didn't have the right to vote. Have them research the topic and write three sentences to answer the following questions:

  • Which amendment to the Constitution gave women the right to vote?
  • Which other women's rights helped Susan B. Anthony write the amendment?
  • In what year was the amendment finally passed?

Grades 6-8: Historic Vocabulary

One of the biggest barriers to students understanding historical documents is complicated or archaic vocabulary. Help students understand this video by having them create a vocabulary list of words that aren't familiar, and then use context, roots, and other text clues to write a guess at the definition of each. Then, have them check their guesses with a dictionary.

Grades 9-12: Equality Before the Law

In the clip, we hear Susan B. Anthony's protest that the laws at the time were "made by men, interpreted by men, administered by men, in favor of men, and against women." Do you think it's possible for a group of people to be truly equal when none of the leaders and lawmakers in their country are of their group? Write three paragraphs to explain why or why not.