September 15, 2020
A “steering committee” has been formed from the relationships built between The Reunion of the Ages, Morristown Task Force of Diversity, Men of Vision, Morristown College Alumni and Friends. It is a combined effort on the part of these people to be instrumental in the renaming of Heritage Park.
For years, it has been an ongoing endeavor with the Reunion of the Ages to maintain the integrity of the college and its accomplishments. Our vision is to preserve the history and its contributions to the community of which it served.
A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step! We are respectfully addressing you on this matter of renaming the park at the former site of Morristown College. The naming of the park was handled by our city officials of which we were not involved in that decision-making factor.
It is through this united partnership that we desire to bring forth the proper recognition that Morristown College duly deserves. It is the assurance and mutual agreement of all parties concerned that now is the time to influence the future!
On October 6, 2020, we will be addressing the City Council of Morristown at their monthly open hearing meeting which the public is welcomed to attend.
It is at this time and after much deliberation, we will be proposing that any affiliated signage would bear the name of “Legacy Park” | Former Site of Morristown College.
We are asking for your support and comments on this name change. The Reunion of the Ages website which is www.reunionoftheages.com has a designated email link specifically for you to post your comments.
If you agree that the name should be changed, please respond to Morristownlegacy@gmail.com and share this information with other alumni and friends.
Please utilize your Facebook and any other media you use to help us spread the word.
Darlene Ely, President of Reunion of the Ages
REUNION OF THE AGES | P.O. BOX 1751 | MORRISTOWN, TN 37816 – 1751
- Plan a fiesta! Prepare tasty food, play traditional mariachi music in the background and create “sombreros” as an art project for everyone!
- Light up young minds by introducing them to Hispanic artists and arts! Frida Kahlo’s paintings are a good start! Amazon has children’s books about Frida Kahlo, Louis Fuertes and Gabriel Garcia Marquez and that is only the beginning.
- Start learning Spanish! We all learned a little bit in school, so why not go all the way! Who knows where that might take you?
The year was 1920. Nashville was blistering hot. The all-male Tennessee legislature was meeting in order to decide whether to ratify the 19th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. If this amendment were ratified, it would bring a change that would grant women the right to vote.
Legislators in favor of ratification wore a yellow rose in their lapel, an indication of a promise to ratify. Those opposed wore a red rose in their lapel, a sure sign of voting it down. The roll call had landed on Harry T. Burn, who at 24, was the youngest state lawmaker. He had voted twice to table the amendment. On his lapel was a red rose. But beneath the rose, in the pocket of his suit jacket, was a letter delivered that morning from his mother, Febb Burn.
Between updates on the farm and the family, she had slipped in three references to the vote.On page 2 of the letter, Febb wrote to her son, “Hurrah and vote for suffrage, and don’t keep them in doubt.”On page four, referring to reelection, she wrote, “I hope you see enough of politicians to know it is not one of the greatest things to be one. What say ye??”And on page six: “Don’t forget to be a good boy and help Mrs. ‘Thomas Catt’ with her ‘rats.’ (A reference to the President of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, Mrs. Carrie Chapman Catt) Is she the one that put “rat” in ratification? Ha! No more from Mama this time. With lots of love.”
Katie Mettler, an assignment reporter for The Washington Post, has written an engaging and moving article titled “A Mother’s Letter, a Son’s Choice and the Incredible Moment Women won the Vote.” The article includes a report of the arguments against women’s right to vote.
It is hard to read the words and not be angered by the underlying attitudes they represent. There are photos and and interesting follow up on the trajectory of the lives of the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Harry Burn. Overarching all, are the words and love of Febb Burn, Harry’s mother. Until his death in 1977, Burn treasured his mother’s letter. It was donated to the C. M. McClung Museum in Knoxville, alongside the rest of his personal papers. In those papers was another cherished document that McMinn County did not update before 900 women registered to vote in October 1920. Febb Burns was first in line. “THIS IS TO CERTIFY That Mrs. J.L. Burn is a Legal Voter,” her card read. “His Registration No. is 1.”
The Role of Black Women
August 18, 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, the Constitutional Amendment which guaranteed all American women the right to vote – in theory. However, Jim Crow voter suppression laws made it impossible for Black women to vote until President Lyndon Johnson signed into law the 1965 Voting Rights Act…just 55 years ago.
The dominant narrative about the Women’s Suffrage Movement has been viewed through the experiences of white women, to our shame. We must not forget the continuous and major role that African-American women played in obtaining the right to vote in 1920 and how they persisted and continue to persist in the struggle for human equality.
Black women marched alongside white women, attended and spoke at suffrage conventions. They wrote books and published tracts and organized groups and inspired women all over the country to press for the vote.
Many African-American women who began their activism as abolitionists, became nationally known as Suffragettes. Their names are heralded today: Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Coralee Cook, Angelina Grimke, Charlotta Rollin, Mary Ann Shad Cary, Ida B. Wells, Mary Church Terrell, Anna Julia Cooper, Rosa Parks, Charlotte Vandine Forten, Harriet Forten Purvis, Margaretta Forten, Sarah Remond, Josephine St Pierre Ruffin, Nannie Helen Burroughs, Ella Baker, Fannie Lou Hamer and Diane Nash.
First emerging in the 1820’s, women have been deeply engaged in social and cultural movements for civil rights. Many of those originally involved in the Abolitionist Movement moved from there into Women’s Suffrage and into the movement for humane labor laws pertaining especially to children and women and from there into the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s. In all of these movements, racial discrimination and prejudice created obstacles and gulfs—a few of which were overcome, but the deepest were not. That being said, today’s world is decidedly different. Movements around the world find women of amazing diversity working together for the well being of all.
Nsenga K.. Burton is an award-winning professor, journalist, filmmaker and producer. She has written a very readable and short reflection about 19 very significant Black women who were part of Women’s Suffrage Movement. It is an enlightening read.
If asked, when would you say “freedom” was granted to those whose ancestors were brought to the colonies as enslaved people? Would you respond January 1, 1863 when the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect? Ah, but those states that had seceded from the Union did not recognize the Emancipation Proclamation and were engaged in ongoing and brutal battle to have their own government apart from the United States.
We just celebrated “Juneteenth” – June 19, 1865, when, at last, the news of Confederate surrender and emancipation reached Texas. The announcement was accompanied by many Union troops, among them units of black soldiers wearing Union uniforms. What about emancipation in border states – border states like Tennessee?
During the early days of the Civil War, there were a number of states located between the Union and the newly declared Confederacy. Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky and Missouri remained border states throughout the Civil War. Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina and Virgina were originally considered border states and the great divisions of sentiment in those states, as well as the bloody battles fought in those states created hostilities that remain among their peoples to this day.
However, pro-Union eastern Kentucky and East Tennessee considered themselves part of the Union…and themselves, a border people. So, for some time, they carried an understanding that the Emancipation Proclamation did not apply to them. In fact, in 1862, President Lincoln appointed then Tennessee Senator, Andrew Johnson of Greeneville, Tennessee, as the Military Governor of Tennessee.
On August 8, 1863, Johnson freed the slaves he held in Tennessee and in 1871, Emancipation Day in Tennessee was celebrated for the first time. To this day, a number of East Tennessee counties celebrate August 8th as Emancipation Day. You can read about our unique Emancipation Day at the Tennessee Historical Association website
In 2007, the Tennessee General Assembly designated August 8 or “Emancipation Day” as a day of special observance. August 8 has been celebrated in Tennessee as “Emancipation Day” or “8 of 8” since 1871. That very first celebration was organized in Greenville, Tennessee by Sam Johnson. Sam Johnson was free that day in 1871, but it had not always been so. Former President of the United States, Andrew Johnson was the guest speaker. At one time, Sam belonged to Andrew Johnson. Sam Johnson was forty-eight years old in 1871. He had lived as a free man for only eight years. Sam was the first enslaved person that Andrew Johnson purchased. On November 29, 1842, the day he was purchased, Sam was 13 years old. Several weeks later, on January 3, 1843, Andrew Johnson purchased Sam’s half-sister, Dolly, who was 19 years old at the time.
Executive Director of the Beck Cultural Exchange Center hosts this reflection on Emancipation Day – 8th of August. The video is about 30 minutes. It features people whose families passed along the stories of emancipation as it happened in Tennessee.
The United States lost two Civil Rights icons on the same day, yesterday, July 17, 2020. Both men died within hours of the celebration of Nelson Mandela’s birthday. Read something of their stories at:
May angels lead him into Paradise; may martyrs receive him into Heavenly Jerusalem; may choirs of angels sing him into the Eternal Habitations and may he hear the voice of the Holy One say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” And may we be so moved by his example that we seek and stir up “good trouble!” Thank you, Congressman John Lewis!