The Brookneal Woman’s Club (BWC) recognized August 18, 2020 as the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment to the constitution giving women in the United States of America the right to vote. The club had Town Manager Russell Thurston sign a proclamation proclaiming August 2020 as “Women’s Suffrage Month” in celebration, recognition, and honor of the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment to the United States Constitution. On August 18, 1920, a young Tennessee state representative cast the deciding vote as Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the 19th amendment. The fight was long, encompassing over 70 years, and difficult. Many women not only fought with their voices, pens and hearts, but had to physically fight, were imprisoned and abused. The 19th amendment reads:
“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”
Members of the BWC wore yellow roses as they signed this proclamation. The yellow rose gained national attention in 1919 when Tennessee became the final state to vote in favor of the 19th Amendment and ensure its ratification. “Antis”, people who were against women’s suffrage, wore a red rose to symbolize a “no” vote. Representatives who planned to vote “yes” adorned themselves with a yellow rose. Notably, the vote to ensure the passage of the amendment was passed by Harry T. Burn. Harry, the youngest member of the State Legislature, had planned on voting “no” until he received a letter from his mother Febb E. Burn shortly before the vote. Febb, a General Federation of Woman’s Club (GFWC) clubwoman, implored Harry to be a “good boy” and vote “yes”.
The BWC encourages all women to honor the legacy of these activists, by exercising and defending the right to vote this election season. They fought so hard for decades for something we all take for granted, the right to vote. This step toward equality was not one given, but hard won by the struggle, courage, and determination of generations of women.