From the General Secretary

Exercise Our Hard-won Right

from UMWNews

Exercise Our Hard-won Right
Courtesy Yvonne Wood, President, Tennessee Woman Suffrage Monument, Inc.

On a recent trip to Nashville, I visited Centennial Park to see the new Woman Suffrage Monument. The women featured in the sculpture are people whose dedicated work on behalf of voting rights helped to turn an 82-year effort from the time of the Seneca Falls Convention and the Declaration of Sentiments into a success.

The monument was erected to honor them and mark Tennessee's role as the 36th state to ratify the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, expanding women's right to vote from a few states to a national constitutional right. Without reminders like this, it might be hard to believe that the right of women to vote was ever controversial. It was, both in the general public and within our predecessor bodies.

The stories of these particular women remind us that they created opportunities to influence decisions that they were not a part of. Just because the Tennessee legislature was an all-male body at the time, did not mean that they counted themselves out. They staged rallies and marches and carried signs like those depicted in the monument. The amendment passed by a one-vote margin in Tennessee and the story is that the last vote was secured, in part, by a mother's telegram to her legislator son just before the final vote.

I take several lessons from this. First: Vote! Know the issues and vote in ways that represent your faith and your conviction that we are called to show God's love by helping to build a system in which women, children, and youth can survive and thrive. Second: Create ways to influence people who can make positive change happen. Don't count yourself out. Third: change requires broad participation of many people for as long as it takes as well as the dogged commitment of leaders; with you, still turning faith, hope and love into action.


Posted or updated: 11/3/2016 11:00:00 PM

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Back, left to right: Frankie Pierce, Abby Crawford Milton, Carrie Chapman Catt. Front, right to left: Ann Dallas Dudley and Sue Shelton White depicted on a monument by sculptor Alan LeQuire. 


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