Organizers also held an abbreviated women’s suffrage parade before the event, which featured the coalition chanting, marching, and ringing bells down a short stretch of Ashe Street. The reenactment was inspired by a suffrage parade that traveled through downtown Johnson City on Oct. 7, 1916, which included a drum and fife band and ended with a pro-suffrage rally near Fountain Square.
Joy Fulkerson, director of leadership and civic engagement at ETSU, lead the presentation.
The Centennial Suffrage Celebration Coalition of Johnson City originated the project and formally unveiled the artwork during a Sunday afternoon ceremony. The mural titled “Passing the Torch” depicts figures in the women’s suffrage movement, including several women from East Tennessee who played key roles in advocating for the right to vote and ratifying the 19th Amendment. More information here.
The mural acknowledges that the crusade to secure enfranchisement for all women continued after the 19th Amendment’s ratification. It lists legislation approved in the following decades, including the Voting Rights Act of 1965, that worked to ensure women of color’s rights were also protected.
Above at the podium, Linda Good is the leader of the Johnson City Centennial Suffrage Celebration Coalition.
Artist Ellen Elmes (in the purple jacket), with assistance from her husband Don seated beside her, installed the mural. Other people seated in the reserved section are the direct descendants of some of the women depicted in the mural.
Located across the street from the Ashe Street Courthouse (below) at 398 Ashe St., the mural (above) shows early activists, including Susan B. Anthony and Sojourner Truth, symbolically passing the torch across generations of suffragettes and into the future.
The kiosk shown below explains the mural in more detail. For more information about “Passing The Torch,” our newest art installation in Johnson City, TN, click here.
Nancy Fishman, our design director, is to the right of me in the photo above, the founder of Bravissima! my good friend Belinda Kiener is next, Linda Good is beside her, and to the far right in black and white, is the mayor of Johnson City, Jenny Brock. Bravissima! is a group of women who have made a yearly commitment to sponsor the Arts in our region. I’m proud to be a charter member of Bravissima! and happy that we could help support this project. If you are local and would like more information about Bravissima!, contact Belinda at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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