Concert Sutra & Ani Difranco Say “Vote Dammit!”

by terri sapp

Photographs by Leah Yetter

© Concert Sutra, All Rights Reserved

Ani Difranco beauty

click photos for photo gallery

                There has never been a more important time in American history to put your civil liberties to good use and get to the polls and VOTE!  In the past, many people have fought and struggled so that women, African Americans, Native Americans, and young adults could make a choice and have a voice in time of Election.  The “Vote Dammit!” tour with Ani Difranco has made it their business to encourage each and every eligible American to be heard in the most crucial election of our generation’s lifetime so far.  Ani Difranco has even enlisted her own Army to walk the non-registered masses through the process of registering to vote, including sending their registration off in the mail for them, so they can be eligible by November 2, 2004!

                Having seen Ani Difranco on several occasions, I knew that she was not shy at all about voicing her opinions (through her music, guest speakers, and opening acts).  Also having heard that her latest tour was titled “Vote Dammit!” I was sure she would have plenty to say about the upcoming Election!  Much to my surprise, her message was fairly nonpartisan, HOWEVER, as a free-thinking woman who has made it clear to her fans that she is pro making one’s own choices regarding their own bodies, sexual orientation, and marital situation and REALLY against the death penalty and war (two of the current President’s favorite pastimes), I am sure she was NOT rooting for the incumbent.  I definitely felt that the desperation in the voices of all who were representing her demand for the vote was stemming from the hopes of CHANGE in the government as it stands right now, and in the years to come.  Even more evidence that Ani has dedicated the “Vote Dammit!” tour to urging the large percentage of Americans out to Vote that normally wouldn’t, (because they think their vote won’t count) is the fact that this tour only passed through the “swing states.”  Many organizations have joined forces with Ani, such as the Feminist Majority Foundation, NOW, PETA, Planned Ani up closeParenthood, Progressive Democrats of America, Environmental Voter Education Campaign, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and Rock the Vote.

                Normally, at a show, the set list is the most information audiences end up carrying home with them at the end of the night.  And you might think that was the case on September 19, 2004 at the Tabernacle in Atlanta, Georgia, but you would be wrong.  Although the set list WAS amazing, this night (like all the other nights on the “Vote Dammit!” tour) we walked away with an entire history lesson and all kinds of tools to educate ourselves in the area of how, when, where, and why to vote!  Ani’s set consisted of: “Ain’t That The Way,” “Origami,” “Next Bold,” “Swim,” “Half Assed,” “Nicotene,” “Lag Time,” “So What,” “Paradigm,” “Anticipate,” “Grey,” “Little Plastic Castles,” “Names and Dates,” and ended with “Self Evident,” which was a very moving  poem with a very political message.  As an encore, Ani and the extremely Anti-Republican/Bush political songwriter Dan Bern, who was the hilarious opening act, ended the night with an old Woody Guthrie song, “Do Re Mi.”  During the course of the show, Ani switched of between 6 different guitars, and played like the wind.  Right along side her was (another dreamily hot and sexy bass player, what is it with these guys?) Todd Sickafoose, who managed to play his stand up as a bass (with his fingers), as a cello (with a bow), and as a drum (beating on it with hands).  He and Ani were like two skilled peas in an impressive pod, and made the most beautiful sweet music all night.  I would like to see more of this Todd, because he was rockin’ out and held his own with one of our time’s most ingenious powerhouse musicians.  I have to say, Ani is one of the most petite “heavyweights” I have ever encountered.  You can see more of Leah’s photo gallery from the show in Atlanta at:   For more information on Ani Difranco and Righteous Babe Records, visit

                As wonderful as the show itself was, the dominating theme left me with an even greater passion to encourage the voters to vote.  Below are some key images and ideas represented during the course of the show that left me feeling glad that I have voted every time I was eligible since the day I turned 18, and inspired to rally the troops to the polls.

March 1776:        Abigail Adams writes to her husband, John, who is helping to plan the Declaration of the Independence:  “In the new code of laws…remember the ladies…If particular care and attention is not paid to the Ladies, we are determined to foment a Rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice or Representation.”

Ani on guitarApril 1776:            John Adams replies to Abigail Adams:  “As to your extraordinary code of laws, I cannot but laugh…Depend upon it, we know better than to repeal our masculine systems.”

1866:     Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony from the American Equal Rights form the American Equal Rights Association, an organization for women and men of all races dedicated to the goal of universal suffrage.

1870:     The 15th Constitutional Amendment gives African-American men the right to vote. 

1872:     Susan B. Anthony is arrested in Rochester, NY, for attempting to vote for Ulysses S. Grant in the presidential election.  Sojourner Truth demands a ballot in Grand Rapids, MI; she is turned away.

1878:     A Woman Suffrage Amendment is introduced in the US Congress.

1887:     The first vote on woman suffrage is taken in the Senate.  It is defeated 34 to 16, with 25 members absent.

1890:     2 strong Woman’s Suffrage organizations unite to form The National American Woman Suffrage Association.  They gather 600,000 signatures to petition New York state for woman’s suffrage.  The petition is ignored by state officials.

1870s to 1960s:                   Defying the 15th Amendment, many states prevent African-Americans from voting by instituting poll taxes, property tax requirements, and literacy tests.  African Americans who try to register to vote are often harassed, beaten, and sometimes murdered.

1890-1913:           On the state level, woman’s suffrage is granted by Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Idaho, Washington, California, Oregon, Arizona, and Kansas.

March 3, 1913:                    8000 suffragists march on Washington, DC for Woman’s Suffrage, surrounded by a crowd of 500,000 onlookers.  Many onlookers were angry opponents of suffrage, and they spit at, slapped, mobbed and beat some of the women marchers.  Police refused to protect the marchers and over 200 were injured.

1916:     The National Woman’s Party forms.  Members participate in hunger strikes, picket the White House, and engage in other forms of civil disobedience to publicize the suffrage cause.  Hundreds of women were jailed for their protests.

1918:     The Woman’s Suffrage Amendment passes in the US House of Representatives, but loses in the US Senate.

August 26, 1920: The 19th Amendment to the Constitution, guaranteeing women the right to vote, is finally ratified-42 years after being introduced to Congress- with its original wording.  Despite the 19th Amendment, African-American women who try to vote suffer physical and economic intimidation, poll taxes, and literacy requirements.  The women resist and persist.  This continues for decades.

1924:     Congress grants all Native Americans US citizenship.  In most states, this did NOT mean Native Americans gained the right to vote.  Many states passed laws requiring Native people to abandon reservation life and pay state taxes to vote; other states imposed poll taxes and literacy requirements.

1943:     Not until then did Chinese immigrants are permitted to become citizens.  Bilingual ballots and language assistance at polls are not legally mandated until 1975.

1952:     Not until then did Japanese immigrants are permitted to become citizens.  Bilingual ballots and language assistance at polls are not legally mandated until 1975.

March 7, 1965:    600 civil rights marchers begin a 50 mile walk from Selma to Montgomery, AL to demand equal rights in voting.  After only 6 blocks, state troopers beat them with billy clubs and tear gas, badly injuring nearly 100 people.

March 15, 1965:  In response to “Bloody Sunday” in Selma, President Johnson introduces a Voting Rights bill to Congress.

Ani with Dan BernMarch 21, 1965:  Civil rights activists march in Alabama again, led by Martin Luther King, Jr.  The march begins with 3,200 people in Selma, bur swells to 25,000 people by the time it reaches Montgomery on March 25.

August 6, 1965:   President Johnson signs The Voting Rights Act.  The effect of the 1965 Voting Rights Acts on Mississippi:  7% of African Americans registered to vote in 1964.  By 1969, there were 67% of African Americans registered to vote.

1960s and 1970s:                The country’s youth insisted that if 18-20 year olds could be asked to fight and die in the Vietnam War, they should have the right to vote on war related issues.

1971:     The 26th Amendment to the Constitution changes the minimum voting age from 21 to 18.

1970s and 1980s:                Voting Rights Act is amended to mandate bilingual voting forms and language assistants for Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Native American, and Eskimo speaking voters.

1980s and 1990s:                Voter participation in Presidential elections is poor, hovering around 53%.  The 1996 Presidential election has the lowest turnout since 1924, at only 49%.

2000:     In the 2000 presidential election, 100,228,726 Americans didn’t show up to vote.  38,325,000 eligible women didn’t vote in the 2000 election.  28,416,000 of them never even registered. (US Census Bureau)  Only 32% of eligible 18-24 year olds voted in the 2000 presidential election.  Among registered voters who failed to cast ballots in 2000, 1 in 5 reported they were “too busy” to vote. (US Census Bureau)

Only 14% of the US Congress is comprised of women.

Only 4% of the US Congress is comprised of women of color.

“Voting is more than a badge of citizenship and dignity – it is an effective tool for change.”  Martin Luther King, Jr.

“The world that you envision has potency and legitimacy and need never be discounted.”  Congressman Dennis Kucinich

“Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote.”  George Jean Nathan

“Never underestimate that a small group of thoughtful, committed individuals can change the world.  Indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.”  Margaret Mead

“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”  Alice Walker

votesign“90% of success is showing up.”  (Woody Allen)  “The other 10% is making sure you’re registered beforehand.” (Al Gore)  (from MoveOn’s 50 Ways to Love Your Country)

Many people ask, “Why should I vote – there’s no difference between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party.”  Yes, there is.  So, better to be informed on both sides.


*Wants to spend 238 million dollars to teach virginity, no safety, no education on disease.

*Anti-choice except in some cases of rape, incest and endangerment of the life of the mother.

*Pro death penalty – “The reason I support the death penalty is because it saves lives.”

*Supports Constitutional Amendment banning gay marriage.

*50 new large scale nuclear reactors by 2020.

*Approved Yucca Mountain for 77,000 tons of high level nuclear waste.

*Does not support gun control.

*Does not support affirmative action.


*Supports Abstinence Plus, which teaches abstinence and contraceptive and disease control.

*Pro-Choice – Staunchly resists restrictions on abortions.

*Opposes death penalty except for post 9-11 terrorists.

*”I am for civil union.  I am for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.”

*20% renewable energy by 2020.

*No nuclear waste dump in Nevada’s Yucca Mountain.

*Supports assault weapons ban & Brady Bill.

*Supports affirmative action.

Learn more about your candidates for local, state, and federal office: -Project Vote Smart: -League of Women Voter: -League of Conservation Voters:

Some other organizations that provide information are as follows: -Southern Center for Human Rights: -Not in Our Name: -United for Justice and Peace: -Just Cause Law Collective: -Choose or Lose: -Indymedia:

Critical Media Studies Resources: -Adbusters:  -Democracy Now:

For options in Alternative Media: -Air America Radio: -The Nation: -Ms. Magazine:

After the first Presidential Debate, we see even more how close this race will be. Don’t miss the rest of the Presidential Debates as well that are set to take place on Tuesday October 5 between the Vice Presidential Candidates, Friday October 8, where people are allowed to ask the questions, and Wednesday October 13 between George Bush and John Kerry on the issues of Domestic Policies.  Tune in, America!  Be sure to know the issues, make a choice, and make it heard!