Prior to August 26, 2016, there were no monuments outside the Capitol building in Nashville that reflected women’s contributions to our state’s history. There is now a privately funded monument to the Tennessee suffragists in Centennial Park which has a historic connection to the suffrage movement. Thousands of people visit Centennial Park every year, so this story will be preserved for future generations with fabulous public art. We are very appreciative of former Nashville Mayors Karl Dean and Megan Barry who wanted this monument to be highly visible and receive the important placement it deserves.
The monument was unveiled in a temporary location in Centennial Park on August 26, 2016, which is Women’s Equality Day, and has been re-located to the permanent site closer to The Parthenon. Dedication will take place on August 18, 2020, one hundred years after Tennessee’s pivotal vote which achieved ratification of the 19th Amendment.
What: Dedication of the Woman Suffrage Monument
When: Tuesday, August 18, 2020 – 10:30 a.m. CDT to noon
Where: Centennial Park, 2500 West End Avenue, Nashville, Tennessee
The ceremony is not open to the public because of the limitation placed on public gatherings due to Covid 19; however, a live news feed will be on site. Also, the event will be filmed and made available on TV stations, YouTube and other social media outlets. You can view the dedication virtually beginning at 10:15 at https://vodayo.com/womansuffragemonument/
The monument features five women who were actually involved in the final ratification battle in Nashville in 1920: Anne Dallas Dudley of Nashville; J. Frankie Pierce of Nashville; Sue Shelton White of Jackson; Abby Crawford Milton of Chattanooga; and national suffrage leader Carrie Chapman Catt who came to Tennessee to direct the pro-suffrage forces from The Hermitage Hotel. Catt worked closely with Rep. Joe Hanover, the floor leader of Memphis who kept the pro-suffrage votes together, to achieve victory in the House.
It also includes plaques of three women who were significant in Tennessee’s political history. These three Tennessee Trailblazers are the late Rep. Lois M. DeBerry, first woman elected speaker pro tempore in the state House and the longest serving member of the House at her death in 2013; the late Jane G. Eskind, first woman to win a statewide race in 1980 which was 60 years after the 19th Amendment’s ratification; and Rep. Beth Halteman Harwell, the first woman to be elected Speaker of the state House in 2011. Their careers were made possible by the suffragists’ victory.
Nashville artist Alan LeQuire (pictured below) created the bas relief plaque, unveiled in February 1998, that hangs inside the state capitol building about the 19th Amendment. He also created the woman suffrage monument in Knoxville that was dedicated in 2006. He is working on the Memphis Suffrage Monument “Equality Trailblazers” which will be unveiled in October 2020.
Now,100 years later, there is a beautiful monument in Centennial Park depicting the 72-year suffrage struggle which culminated with victory in Tennessee. On May 25, 2017, a statue of Sue Shelton White created by artist Wanda Stanfill was unveiled in front of Jackson City Hall. Alan LeQuire also sculpted the Burn Memorial unveiled in downtown Knoxville on June 9, 2018. Clarksville will unveil their “Tennessee Triumph” statue on August 15, 2020.
Nationally, there are roughly 8% of statues featuring women. In Tennessee, we are doing our part to increase that number to recognize women’s contributions to our nation’s history.
First Lady Crissy Haslam hosted a reception for The Perfect 36 Society members on June 30, 2015, at the Executive Residence. Board members are pictured with the First Lady and Speaker Beth Harwell.