Equality Trailblazers:
Memphis Suffrage Monument

This public memorial honors Shelby County leaders who participated in the nonviolent efforts to win the right to vote for American women. Tennessee is important to the movement, as it was the final state to ratify the 19th Amendment, with which women won the right to vote.

The design of the monument features six busts sculpted by noted Tennessee sculptor Alan LeQuire, along with a sculptural depiction of the “100 Year March,” a 70-foot long series of 9-foot tall wall panels representing women marching for their rights from 1918 to 2019.

Attached to these wall panels are etched glass portraits and bios of individuals who were instrumental in the woman suffrage movement as well as those whose careers were made possible by the suffragists’ victory. Some of those honored in the Memphis monument are not recognized anywhere else, so their placement on this monument is significant.

The Equality Trailblazers monument is located near the University of Memphis Law School. It can be seen from the Mississippi River, the I-40 bridge, and Riverside Drive.

Equality Trailblazers Honored with Busts:

Ida B. Wells: Journalist, anti-lynching campaigner, later suffragist

Mary Church Terrell: Suffragist, champion of racial and gender equality

Marion Griffin: First woman to practice law in the state of Tennessee, the first woman elected to state House

Rep. Joe Hanover: House floor leader who kept pro-suffrage votes together, an ally of Carrie Chapman Catt, attorney, humanitarian

Charl Ormond Williams: A nationally known educator who coordinated state ratification efforts, stood by Gov. Roberts when he signed ratification papers

Rep. Lois DeBerry: First female Speaker Pro Tempore in Tennessee legislature, 40 years of public service

 

Equality Trailblazers Honored with Etched Portraits and Narratives in Glass:

Lide Smith Meriwether: Early suffragist who had national recognition

Lulu Colyar Reese: Later suffragist, in Nashville in 1920

Alma H. Law: First woman to serve on Shelby County Quarterly Court, served until her death in 1947

Maxine Smith: Civil rights legend, NAACP Executive Director, registered large numbers of women to vote

Minerva Johnican: First black female on County Commission and City Council, ran for city mayor in 1987, was nationally recognized Criminal Court Clerk

Frances Grant Loring: Women’s rights and civil rights activist, marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a founding member of the Association for Women Attorneys, Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association

Happy Snowden Jones: Founding member of Panel of American Women, helped avert 2nd sanitation workers strike, the first donor to this monument, a feminist philanthropist who was the benefactor of The Perfect 36: Tennessee Delivers Woman Suffrage book, e-book, and audiobook

Images from sculptor Alan LeQuire. (Photo credit Andree LeQuire – top two photos and Dean Dixon  bottom two photos)

Scroll below for additional photos and video testimonials from monument committee members and others who were instrumental in the creation of the Equality Trailblazers monument.

The following video testimonials are given by people who were instrumental in bringing this monument to life: 

Mayor Jim Strickland – Memphis Mayor, Memphis Suffrage Monument Committee Member

US Rep. Steve Cohen – Committee Member and Early Proponent of Suffragist Public Art

Paula F. Casey – Chair, Memphis Suffrage Monument Committee; Co-Founder, TN Woman Suffrage Heritage Trail

Michelle Duster – Ida B. Wells’ great-granddaughter, Author of Ida B. the Queen

Bill Haltom – Author, Why Can’t Mother Vote? Joseph Hanover and the Unfinished Business of Democracy

(Coming soon) Anna Laymon – Former Executive Director, Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission

Patrice Robinson – City Councilwoman; Former Chair, Memphis City Council

Tami Sawyer – Shelby County Commissioner

Heidi Shafer – Former Shelby County Commission Chair

Dr. Janann Sherman – Co-author, The Perfect 36: Tennessee Delivers Woman Suffrage, Committee member

Katharine Traylor Schaffzin – Dean, University of Memphis Law School

Van Turner – Shelby County Commissioner, NAACP Memphis Branch President