Issue 57
August 2020
from suffragists to
today's barrier-breakers
Clockwise from far left: Pat Summit, Marilou Awiakta, Martha Craig Daughtrey, Wilma Rudolph, Dolly Parton, Maxine Smith, Beverly Robertson, Margaret Rhea Seddon and Lois DeBerry

Photo courtesy of USA Today.
Today, Aug. 18, 2020, we celebrate the centennial of the hard-fought vote in Nashville that won American women the right to vote.

We in Tennessee have special reasons to celebrate and to be proud of this accomplishment. It was lobbying, speaking and demonstrating strategies carried out in our legislature during that miserable, un-air-conditioned summer that finally tallied 36 states in favor of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Do not be confused --- the battle for women’s right to vote began formally in 1848 and extended across decades of speeches and train trips, marches and meetings, jailings and forced feedings and still more of the same.

We honor the shouting, sleepless nights, strained family relationships, missed meals, anger, curses, nasty weather, injuries, damaged health and illness endured by hundreds of women who kept this pursuit going for more than 70 years. We also honor women of color who continued to fight into the 1960s – and continue to fight today – for safe and equal access to voting booths.

To commemorate 100 years of women’s right to vote, USA Today selected Women of the Century for the nation and for all 50 states, District of Columbia and United States Territories.

Four Memphis women – Women of Achievement honorees and presenters -- shine among the Tennessee 10: award-winning writer Marilou Awiakta, Tennessee legislative leader Lois DeBerry, businesswoman and community leader Beverly Robertson and civil rights leader Maxine Smith.

Tennessee’s others are Justice Martha Craig Daughtrey, entertainer Dolly Parton, Olympic gold medalist Wilma Rudolph, astronaut Dr. Margaret Rhea Seddon (honored for Heroism by Women of Achievement in 2004), human rights activist Renata Soto and basketball coach Pat Summit.

Invited by the Commercial Appeal's Erin Munz, Deborah Clubb, co-founder of Women of Achievement and executive director of the Memphis Area Women’s Council, and historian Dr. Beverly Bond served on the Tennessee selection committee to vet and prioritize finalists. State lists were finalized by USA Today leadership.

See Tennessee stories and others online through USA Today.

Read Women of Achievement essays about Awiakta, DeBerry, Seddon and Smith, as well as local suffragists.

Follow the Women’s Legacy Trail guide created by Women of Achievement to find gravesites of our Women of the Century Lois DeBerry and Maxine Smith at Elmwood Cemetery. Also see sites around the city related to suffragists Lide Smith Meriwether, Mary Church Terrell and Ida B. Wells.
10:15 AM - Dedicate a monument!
Tune in to Tennessee’s celebration of the vote for women TODAY, beginning at 10:15 a.m. CST.  

The virtual event will feature the dedication of the Tennessee Woman Suffrage Monument in Nashville, beside the Parthenon.

No Memphis-area suffrage leaders are featured in the 11-foot-tall monument, commissioned and funded by private donors. The five statues are of Anne Dallas Dudley and Frankie Pierce of Nashville, Abby Crawford Milton of Chattanooga, Sue Shelton White of Jackson and Carrie Chapman Catt, National American Woman Suffrage Association president who came to Tennessee to direct the pro-suffrage forces.

Female skydivers with suffrage banners, current Nashville politicians and judges, grandchildren of political leaders from 1920 and historians will participate in the dedication that continues until 11:45 a.m. Due to COVID-19, the event is closed to the public but a live news stream will be in use.

A Memphis monument to local suffrage leaders and other outstanding changemakers is planned for a blufftop location west of the University of Memphis College of Law. Dedication is anticipated in October 2020.
6:00 PM - Watch a play!
Celebrate further tonight when the New York Times presents a virtual stage production of “Finish the Fight,” the new book by NYT writers capturing the stories of diverse women who fought for suffrage, but have been less recognized for their work including Memphis suffragist and WA honoree Mary Church Terrell.

According to the New York Times, “(P)laywright Ming Peiffer and director Whitney White… (adapted) some of the book’s biographies into a new form of theatrical storytelling, with invented scenes and imagined conversations among five women. The events of their lives, and their accomplishments, are real.”

Register here for this event.
Continue celebrating suffrage ALL MONTH:
THIS WEEK - Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) will be nominated for vice president this week to join former Vice President Joe Biden in the 2020 campaign for the White House.

She will speak Wednesday night at the Democratic National Convention along with other women from the front lines of today’s political, legislative and elective battles: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

Harris will become only the fourth woman in U.S. history to be chosen for a presidential ticket. Daughter of Jamaican and Indian parents, she is the first woman of color to be nominated for national office by a major political party.

Details of next week’s 2020 Republican National Convention agenda were not available at press time.
AUG. 26 - The local proclamation by Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland and Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris urges “residents to recognize this historic accomplishment by ringing a bell or a wind chime at noon to remember the efforts of these women and the joy that comes with every step toward equality for all.”

To allow time for wider publicity of the Memphis celebration, the bell-ringing is set for Aug. 26, Women’s Equality Day, when the amendment was certified by Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby

We would add that handbells, cowbells or a spoon in a metal pan also will make a joyful noise! Step out wherever you are and ring out!

Our thanks to Adrienne Pakis-Gillon, our partner during the local 19th Turns 90 celebration of 2010, for working with the mayors to achieve the proclamation.

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