Volunteer State Women
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My recent travels have taken me to Tennessee, the Volunteer State. Although I knew something about the history of the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution enfranchising women and was aware of the role that Tennessee had played, I learned so much more on my recent visit. In 1920, Tennessee became the last state needed to ratify that amendment, the "Perfect 36", by one vote. Many Tennessee women worked hard to make suffrage possible for all American women. Let's learn more about women with ties to the Volunteer State. Match the woman with her accomplishment:

____ 1. A singer who was called the "Empress of the Blues", at one point she was the highest paid black performer in the U.S.
____ 2. An Olympic gold medalist - called the fastest woman in the world - who overcame polio.
____ 3. The founder and first president of the Nashville Equal Suffrage League, she often brought her children with her to march in suffrage parades.
____ 4. Founder and first president of the National Association of Colored Women.
____ 5. She established a newspaper in Memphis to campaign against social injustices towards African Americans.

A. Mary Church Terrell
B. Anne Dallas Dudley
C. Bessie Smith
D. Wilma Rudolph
E. Ida B. Wells

Born in Memphis of former slaves, Mary Church Terrell became one of the first African-American women to earn a college degree (1884). While working for women's suffrage, she noticed African-American women's exclusion from the movement, and organized and became the first president of the National Association of Colored Women (1896). While working to advance social and educational reforms through this organization, she met many African-American leaders and became a charter member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Later in life, her activism led to her being the first African-American woman admitted to membership in the Washington, DC chapter of the American Association of University Women and her leadership in integrating restaurants in our nation's capital.

Born in Nashville, the founder and first president of the Nashville Equal Suffrage League, Anne Dallas Dudley often took her children with her when she marched in suffrage parades. After serving as the President of the Tennessee Equal Suffrage Association, she served in a leadership role in the National American Woman Suffrage Association. The first Tennessee woman to give a public open-air speech (1914), Dudley's other firsts include first female associate of the Tennessee Democratic Committee, and the first female delegate-at-large of the National Democratic Convention (1920). Dudley was among the women who worked to ensure ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment in Tennessee modeling her life conviction: "This is a government of, by and for the people, and only the law denies that women are people!" Dudley has been inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.

The "Empress of the Blues" Bessie Smith, who was born in Chattanooga, began singing on the street at a young age. By the time she was in her late teens, she had joined a minstrel show and come under the tutelage of singer Ma Rainey. In 1923, she signed a record contract with Columbia Records and recorded her first album. "Downhearted Blues," a track from that album, sold over 800,000 copies and catapulted her into the spotlight. Her powerful voice lent itself to touring so she purchased a sleeping car, as African Americans were not allowed into train sleeping cars at the time. By the end of the 1920s, she was the most highly paid black performer and nicknamed "Empress of the Blues." Smith has been inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.

Born as a slave, journalist Ida B. Wells campaigned against lynching in the U.S. She lived in Memphis with an aunt after her parents died and attended Fisk University in Nashville. In 1884, after being removed from a railroad car because she was African American, Wells established a newspaper to write about the injustices faced by African Americans in the South and was also a teacher. After three men who established a grocery store in Memphis were lynched, she began her anti-lynching campaign. She became a persona non grata in Memphis and moved North where she continued her campaigns against social injustices. Wells has been inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.

Afflicted with polio as a child, Wilma Rudolph, overcame significant adversity to become an Olympic medalist. Born in St. Bethlehem, Tennessee, Rudolph starred on the basketball team in high school. Discovered by the coach of Tennessee State, she ran on the relay event at the 1956 Olympics when she was 16 years old. Receiving a bronze medal for that effort, in 1960, she returned to the Olympics and won three gold medals. Her story inspired many and she was considered the fastest woman in the world for the decade of the 1960s. Rudolph has been inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.

Learn about more she-roes and celebrate amazing women. Most of these Volunteer State women are profiled in the book Her Story: A Timeline of the Women Who Changed America. We celebrate their accomplishments.

(Answers 1-C, 2-D, 3-B, 4-A, 5-E )

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