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Votes for women! Town re-enacts historic moment in women’s rights

A group of Northeast Tennessee women gathered in downtown Jonesborough last week, determined to remind area residents of the importance of a woman’s right to vote.
“We feel like maybe younger people will cherish that right to vote if they understand the full fight for it,” said Carol Redmond, an organizer of the Aug. 18 event and a regent for the State of Franklin Chapter of the Daughters of the Revolution.
The event, which brought together the local DAR, Jonesborough’s McKinney Center and the Heritage Alliance of Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee, was designed to celebrate the anniversary — 95 years ago — of the ratification of the 19th amendment, giving women voters’ rights.
It featured women dressed in 1920s attire, marching in front of the International Storytelling Center, carrying placards advocating women’s rights. There were even 1920s-era automobiles at the scene, as well as a mock arrest.
“People don’t realize how hard this fight was,” said Anne G’Fellers Mason with the Heritage Alliance who, with fellow playwright Jules Corriere with the McKinney Center, prepared the script for the event.
Titled “the War of the Roses” the battle for women’s suffrage culminated in the the state finally voting for the amendment on Aug. 24, 1920, the 36th and last vote need to ratify it.
“Of course, its a great story,” Redmond said. “And it’s a War of the Roses for Tennessee with the hook of the red roses being worn by those opposed to the amendment and yellow roses worn by those in favor.”
Redmond, in addition to being personally invested in the campaign for women’s rights — “If anybody thinks it can’t slip back, it can,” she said — also has family history in the issue, with a great aunt who was arrested in Nashvile during a women’s suffrage demonstration.
The story, she said, was that her Aunt Barbara happened upon the demonstration, was handed a sign to help protest and was then promptly arrested.
The details that later emerged, Redmond said, was that “when they took sign, she said, ‘If I’m going to get arrested I’m going to do something to deserve it,’ so she whacked him with her sign.”