The year 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution which granted women the right to vote. On August 18, 1920, Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the 19th Amendment. The Tennessee vote was close and was passed by one vote when Harry T. Burn changed his vote. Can you imagine? One vote.
On August 26, 1920, the US Secretary of State, Bainbridge Colby, certified Tennessee’s vote and signed the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution after receiving Tennessee’s ratification certificate by registered US Postal Service mail.
Suffrage is not universal and is not without problems in the US. Although the text of the 19th Amendment reads “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex”, Black women, Native American women, and other women of color faced obstacles and barriers in exercising their right after 1920. And we are still fighting for and defending voting rights today.
To mark this anniversary, I had been sketching different concepts for commemorative quilt when I decided to ask my 2019 Seattle Modern Bee Mates for their help. My hope is to collectively show the importance of an individual vote (remember Harry T Burn?) and how those votes come together to create something bigger. This collaboration resulted in VOTE.
This quilt has been a surprisingly personal project and journey for me which I have been reluctant to share publicly until now. The history lessons of this piece inspired me to learn more and to act more. This quilt would not be the piece that it is without my Seattle Modern Bee buddies. Thank you!!!
The 2019 Seattle Modern Bee members are Jackie, Rhiannon, Felie, Jonna, Linda, Matt, Dionne, Deidra, Kathy, Kathleen, Susan, and me. Everyone embraced the improv challenge inspired by my love of text and font and influenced by the color work of Andy Warhol and design of Robert Indiana’s LOVE sculpture. Dionne added the final touch – quilting – in pink thread. A grid of who made which block is below: