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Good timing

“Good timing,” Sue Lindemulder greeted me as I settled in the chair for my recent 6-month teeth cleaning appointment. She was just back from celebrating her husband’s birthday in Nashville, Tennessee. It was a return trip to Nashville. Coincidentally, I had last seen her after their first trip there.  That’s when we discovered our mutual love of Dolly Parton. I had also told Sue about the Tennessee Woman Suffrage Monument in Nashville that was on my to-visit-list.

That is why Sue said, “Good timing.”:  She had located the monument and taken photographs for me!  “I took every angle,” she said as she took out her cell phone.

Totally delighted, I scrolled through the photographs of the five suffragists represented in the monument: Carrie Chapman Catt, Anne Dallas Dudley, Sue Shelton White, Mary Abigail “Abby” Crawford Milton, Juno Frankie Pierce.

(Click to enlarge images.)

I wrote about all these women in my book The Vote: Women’s Fierce Fight. Together they led the last ditch fierce fight to secure the final state ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment that prohibits states and the federal government from denying citizens the right to vote “on account of sex.”

The day of the vote in the Tennessee legislature was—“The most exciting and dramatic session ever held,” remembered Abby Crawford Milton. “Every onlooker knew that the fate of the question might depend upon a single vote,” recalled Carrie Chapman Catt.

And it did: A young legislator, Harry Burn who had an anti-suffrage red rose in his lapel followed his mother’s last minute instruction and voted “yes.” (There is a statue of Harry and his mother, Febb Burn, in Knoxville.)

This monument by sculptor Alan LaQuire includes a statue representing a Black suffragist, Juno Frankie Pierce, founder of the Nashville Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs. In a rigidly segregated Nashville, Black and white suffragists joined forces. Anne Dallas Dudley’s  grandson, Guilford Dudley III, who attended the dedication of the Tennessee Woman Suffrage Monument on August 26, 2016, remembered that his grandmother “crossed the Jim Crow line in terms of enlisting black women, and that was light years ahead of her time.”

On May 19, 1920, Juno Frankie Pierce spoke at the first convention of the Tennessee League of Women Voters that was held in the state capitol. The daughter of a house slave of a former Tennessee legislator, and the first Black woman to speak in the capitol, Juno Frankie Pierce told the gathering of white women— “What will the Negro woman do with the Vote?  . . . We are optimistic   . . . We are asking only one thing—a square deal.”

Images:  Front view Tennessee Woman Suffrage Memorial, first row l-r, Carrie Chapman Catt, Anne Dallas Dudley, second row, l-r, Juno Frankie Pierce, Sue Shelton White, Abigail Crawford Milton, photo by Sue Lindemulder; plaque, photo by Sue Lindemulder; back view, photo by Sue Lindemulder; Juno Frankie Pierce, Wikipedia .


“crossed .. .”Bliss, Jessica. (Aug. 26, 2016) Alan LeQuire’s Women Suffrage Monument unveiled in Nashville’s Centennial Park, the Tennessean.

“What . . .” Colman, Penny. The Vote Women’s Fierce Fight, 2019.

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