Mural to highlight McMinn County’s history surrounding passage of 19th amendment

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ATHENS, Tenn. (WDEF) – Next week is the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment that gave women the right to vote.

The historic passage came down to one vote.

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This weekend, an artist will be coming to Athens to paint a mural commemorating that moment.

The mural will represent McMinn County’s role in the passage of the 19th amendment.

“One vote granted half the population the right to vote, and so, we hope people recognize the importance of voting and then they’ll dig deeper into McMinn’s history and the State of Tennessee’s history in granting this universal right to vote across the nation to women,” McMinn County Mayor John Gentry said.

The painting puts a focus on the legislator who gave the final vote to pass the 19th amendment, Niota man Harry T. Burn.

“He was a young man in his first term in office. He was under great pressure. Lobbyists from both sides were working him to vote,” Sen. Mike Bell, (R-McMinn County), said.

The mural will include Burn and his mother who helped him make the decision that led to historic change for the U.S.

“She’s very successful as a farm manager. She’s paying taxes on it. A lot of the men who worked for her couldn’t even read, yet they’re voting and she’s not. She’s never voted in her life and she’s not an activist. She keeps up with the suffrage movement. She supported it for years, when she saw newspapers her son had not taken a stand, she wrote him a letter. That letter arrived on the morning of August 18th 1920. The exact day of the tie breaking vote that her son cast,” Burn’s Great-Grandnephew Tyler L. Boyd said.

The story will be painted on the outside of White Street Market, a shop owned by women.

“Women in general should realize the importance of that vote and you know each man needs to count his vote also, so, but for women this was such a huge mark in history,” White Street Market Co-Owner Lisa Mayfield said.

“We’re proud. We’re proud of that moment of history for our town,” Mayfield said.