Last week, the Johnson City Women’s Suffrage Centennial Coalition announced a slate of events that will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19thamendment. The inclusive, non-partisan coalition seeks to tell the story of the involvement of local Johnson City women in the 1900s and Tennessee’s key role in securing women’s voting rights.
“Many people know that Tennessee was the necessary 36th state to ratify the 19th amendment but we are excited to tell previously unknown stories about women right here in Johnson City who stood up for our right to vote,” said Coalition Co-Chair Linda Good. “Additionally, we want to educate the public about other minority groups that fought for and ultimately achieved political franchise.”
As part of its mission to celebrate local suffragists, in October the Coalition will reenact a 1916 Johnson City parade that was held in honor of the famous 1913 Washington D.C. Suffragists March. The leader of that Johnson City parade, Eliza Shaut White, is one of 12 local suffragists who have been identified by the coalition’s historian.
“It’s an honor to be part of the centennial celebration and recognize the efforts of my grandmother and other remarkable women,” said White’s granddaughter Stacey White Ferren. “I’ve learned things I never knew about her, and that speaks to the importance of the coalition’s efforts.”
In partnership with the Johnson City Public Art Committee, the Suffrage Centennial Coalition is planning a downtown mural that will depict Johnson City’s 1916 parade as well as other significant voting rights events throughout history. The method used by Southwest Virginia artist Ellen Elmes allows volunteers to paint parts of the imagery, making it a true community collaboration.
“This piece will be a special way to honor the legacy of those who made crucial moments in our city’s, state’s and country’s history possible, in a format that will reach many people, for many years,” said Coalition Member Michelle Treece. “We will be hosting a fundraising event for this legacy project on Feb. 29 at the Willow Tree. Vibes and Votes will feature amazing live music, poetry readings and a silent auction.”
Donations are being received at the Coalition’s crowd funding site, www.plumfund.com/jctnsuffrage. For other methods of donating and for more information, visit www.jctnsuffrage.org or www.facebook.com/jctnsuffrage.