Unveiling of suffrage commemorative mural set for 2:30 p.m. Sunday
Oct. 28, 2020 – The Centennial Suffrage Celebration Coalition of Johnson City will present “Passing the Torch,” a mural honoring 100 years of women’s suffrage to the City of Johnson City at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday (Nov. 1.)
Johnson City was a central hub of suffrage activism/organizing activities and an integral part of a national movement for women’s enfranchisement in the early 1900s, hosting a statewide meeting of the Tennessee Congressional Union Party at 113 Spring St. in 1917.
Inspired by the 1913 Washington, D.C. suffragist parade, Johnson City suffragist Eliza Shaut White led a parade supporting women’s suffrage through downtown Johnson City on Oct. 7, 1916. Following White on her horse were several automobiles and a drum and fife band from Mountain Home. The event ended in a pro-suffrage rally near Fountain Square.
To recognize the Johnson Citians who fought for suffrage and to honor all those who passed the torch for voting rights to other disenfranchised Americans throughout history, the Centennial Suffrage Celebration Coalition of Johnson City has commissioned a mural by artist Ellen Elmes. Located at 398 Ashe St., the mural commemorates this centennial anniversary through the depiction of a diverse and cohesive movement that continues to impact the social standing of women in our society today.
“The bold women and men who stood up for suffrage should be honored not only by this artwork but more importantly by voting,” said Johnson City Mayor Jenny Brock. “The City will humbly receive the mural two days prior to Election Day, and we hope the ceremony serves as a reminder to our female citizens that 100 years ago, our ancestors fought for our right to have an equal say in who our leaders are.”
Descendants of these men and women will be present at Sunday’s ceremony, which will include a reenactment of the 1920 vote to ratify the 19th amendment. The event will be livestreamed from the Centennial Suffrage Celebration Coalition’s Facebook page (@jctnsuffrage). Those in attendance will be required to follow CDC and local health guidelines, including wearing face coverings and maintaining proper social distance. Health screenings will be in place.
This project was funded by donations from the community to the Coalition, Bravissima! Women Sponsoring the Arts!, and Johnson City Public Arts. In-kind sponsorship was provided by the East Tennessee State University’s Reece Museum and the Office of Leadership and Civic Engagement. More information concerning the mural can be found at the Coalition web site: www.jctnsuffrage.org.