The City of Knoxville and the Women’s Suffrage Coalition unveiled the Burn Memorial Saturday, honoring Febb Burn and her son Harry Burn and their work in gaining women’s suffrage.
“Persuading a majority of Southern gentlemen to give power to women was anything but an easy task,” said Wanda Sobieski, an attorney and founder of the Woman Suffrage Coalition. “Ultimately though, Tennessee was the final ratification needed to allow women of all colors, of all religions, of all races, of all ethnic backgrounds to have full voting rights.”
Harry Burn was a state representative who was slated to vote against women’s suffrage to align himself with his constituents. However, after reading a letter from his mother, Febb Burn, he changed his vote and broke a tie in the Tennessee House of Representatives, passing the 19th Amendment nationwide. The statue depicts Harry Burn sitting in a chair and his mother standing next to him.
Mayor Rogero recounted a brief history of women’s rights, saying that Americans should rise to meet challenges and teach younger generations what is right, like Febb and Harry Burn did in 1920.
Rogero emphasized the importance of uniting to move forward and said that it took not only the women, but also support from “fair minded” men and abolitionists like Frederick Douglas.
“Remember all those years of poll taxes, the Jim Crow laws and even today we see laws passed that restrict our right to vote,” Rogero said of the future of voting rights. “We can’t take our voting rights for granted or discount efforts to disenfranchise or intimidate voters based on their ae, race, or ability.”
Singer-songwriter Candace Corrigan performed two songs she composed for the event. Both inspired by women’s rights, the lyrics of “Say it Loud” were taken from a Knoxville suffragist’ speech and “Hurrah Son and Vote for Suffrage” is a lyrical transcription of Febb Burn’s letter to her son.
Several groups met at the City County Building and marched to Market Square and then convened at Krutch Park for the unveiling of the statue. Mayor Rogero was joined by City Council members Gwen McKenzie, Lauren Rider and Seema Singh Perez to unveil the statue.
“Innocent lives matter. Our kid’s lives matter. Our lives matter,” says Zenobia Dobson, mother of the late Zaevion Dobson, at Mom’s Demand Action’s picnic for Gun Violence Awareness Day last Saturday.
Dobson, president of the Zaevion Dobson Foundation, was joined by other activists and community organizers at West Hills Park on Saturday to raise awareness for gun violence.
“Sometimes I’m lost for words. My life changed when I saw my baby boy murdered in a senseless act of gun violence.”
Dobson said she’s committed to ending gun violence in her community and said her son’s life should be an inspiration for others to stand up and make communities safer. School programs, local hospitals, and first responders all have resources for education and safety from gun violence, according to Dobson. A number of “gun sense” candidates were also in attendance, including Jaime Ballinger, who is running for state senate, and Joshua Williams and Renee Hoyos, who are running for Knoxville’s federal representative seat.
“We are here to lift each other up and create a future free of gun violence,” organizer Lisa Plawchan said.
Community organizer Andre Canty said gun violence is “as normal as apple pie,” but said he hopes people could make change in the culture.
“In the 1950s and the 1960s, they were going through a lot worse, getting killed in the streets, getting hung, lynched, but people stepped up, no matter what the danger was and made things happen,” Canty said.
Canty also said that the civil rights movement took many years before it was established in American society and that ending gun violence will be no different.
“I know that no matter how our White House is, no matter how our state legislature is, we’ve got people that are willing to work. Politicians alone are not going to make this happen. It’s up to the people.”
Dobson said that “Society has failed our youth,” and that all children have a right to be safe in their neighborhoods. Canty said he saw many young people at the March for Our Lives that inspire him to keep pushing for change.
“The young people are not going to be talked to anymore. They’re going to be talked with. In fact, we are going to listen to them.”
The day is also known as National Wear Orange Day because it is the colors hunters wear to be seen clearly and avoid danger.
Professors from the University met for a panel discussion on prejudice and discrimination Wednesday night.
Panelists included Victor Ray, Jioni Lewis and Michael Olson with moderator Dorian McCoy who discussed racial issues in a post truth society as well as taking general questions from audience members.
The discussion began by asking how racial relations have evolved in our post truth society. Olson began by stating that in a way, America has always been post truth in regards to race and discrimination.
“Facts, evidence, logic, reason, are sometimes not as persuasive as anecdotes,” Olson said.
He went on to praise the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, but then offered some criticism of public perception.
“Between 60 and 90 percent of white Americans still harbor prejudice against minorities,” he said.
He said that if the Civil Rights movement ‘solved’ racism, that number would be much lower. Instead, the movement largely changed what was acceptable to show in public; it is much harder to make someone believe something on a personal level.
Lewis spoke about the history of race after the Civil Rights Movement, dissecting the false idea that America lives in a “post-racial” society. One example is the backlash of the “Southern Strategy” employed by politicians in the 1970s and beyond, where politicians would speak in a sort of code to get their point across.
“It was no longer socially acceptable to be racist, but we’re going to institute these policies that we know are going to have a disproportionately negative effect on people of color, but not be as overt and explicit about it.”
The panelists also looked to the future with some hope for better relationships for America. Ray spoke of the social movements of the 1960s and the enormous impact they had for black Americans and then drew comparisons to modern movements such as Black Lives Matter.
“My hope lies in social movements,” Ray said. Ray hopes these movements will push people and politicians in the right direction like the civil rights movements of the 1960s.
Ray went on to say that policy is key to getting closer to racial equality. He said we may not be able to change the minds of the people, but we can give minorities legal force to fight against America’s continuing problem of racism.
Featured Image by Ryan McGill
Edited by Kaitlin Flippo
The University of Tennessee’s Student Government Assembly held a senate meeting on Tuesday, April 4, focusing on a new proposition to lower Volcard replacement fees and changing the allotted lockouts for students living on campus.
The proposed legislation urges UT VolCard Offices to decrease the student ID replacement fee from $30 to $15. Proponents of the change stated that many other public institutions in the state only charge $10 to $15 for student ID replacement and the current $30 charge places an undue burden on students of UT.
Questions were raised for what the change would mean for the university’s revenue. The VolCard office is funded by fees such as this one and would need to reassess their budget drastically or tuition would likely increase by a small amount for each student to cover the cost.
Additionally, the proposed bill urges the UT Housing offices to increase the number of allotted lockouts students are given. Currently, students are allowed three lockouts per academic year. The bill would change this to three lockouts per academic semester.
Another section of the bill addresses lockout charges, urging UT Housing to eliminate or reduce the lockout fee that students must pay. One senator stressed that in some dorms, students must use their VolCard to access their rooms, so there is no reason that they should have to pay a fee to gain entry if they were to leave their VolCard inside.
The Bill was voted on and passed 38-to-5 with one senator abstaining from the vote. Now the bill will go to the respective offices and boards for review and discussion moving forward.
UT Chancellor Beverly Davenport spoke toward the end of the meeting and answered questions that the student government had regarding a wide range of topics. Davenport voiced her support for diversity and campus safety as a means to push Tennessee into the Top 25, as well as expanding study abroad programs to make the options more affordable for students.
Featured Image by Ryan McGill
Edited by Kaitlin Flippo