Episode 111 – Unstoppable Suffragist with Paula F. Casey
Meet Paula F. Casey who for more than thirty years has worked to educate the public about the role that the state of Tennessee played in securing the passage of the nineteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. In the title of this episode, I referred to Paula as an “unstoppable suffragist”, not an “unstoppable suffragette”. Paula will explain the difference and the importance of these two words.
I find this episode extremely fascinating and well worth the listen for everyone as what Paula says puts many things and ideas into historical perspective. I hope you find Paula Casey’s comments as stimulating and informative as I.
About the Guest:
Paula F. Casey of Memphis has dedicated more than 30 years to educating the public about Tennessee’s pivotal role in the 19th Amendment’s ratification with a video, book, e-book, audiobook, and public art. She is also an engaging speaker on the 19th Amendment and voting rights.
She was just named Chair of the National Votes for Women Trail (https://ncwhs.org/votes-for-women-trail/), which is dedicated to diversity and inclusion of all the women who participated in the 72-year struggle for American women to win the right to vote. She is also the state coordinator for Tennessee.
Paula produced “Generations: American Women Win the Vote,” in 1989 and the book, The Perfect 36: Tennessee Delivers Woman Suffrage, in 1998. She helped place these monuments – bas relief plaque inside the State Capitol (1998); Tennessee Woman Suffrage Monument (Nashville’s Centennial Park 2016); Sue Shelton White statue (Jackson City Hall 2017). The Memphis Suffrage Monument “Equality Trailblazers” was installed at the University of Memphis law school after 5 years of work. The dedication ceremony was held on March 27, 2022, and is on YouTube: https://youtu.be/YTNND5F1aBw
She co-founded the Tennessee Woman Suffrage Heritage Trail (www.tnwomansuffrageheritagetrail.com) that highlights the monuments, markers, gravesites and suffrage-related sites.
How to Connect with Paula:
About the Host:
Michael Hingson is a New York Times best-selling author, international lecturer, and Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe. Michael, blind since birth, survived the 9/11 attacks with the help of his guide dog Roselle. This story is the subject of his best-selling book, Thunder Dog.
Michael gives over 100 presentations around the world each year speaking to influential groups such as Exxon Mobile, AT&T, Federal Express, Scripps College, Rutgers University, Children’s Hospital, and the American Red Cross just to name a few. He is Ambassador for the National Braille Literacy Campaign for the National Federation of the Blind and also serves as Ambassador for the American Humane Association’s 2012 Hero Dog Awards.
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Michael Hingson 00:00
Access Cast and accessiBe Initiative presents Unstoppable Mindset. The podcast where inclusion, diversity and the unexpected meet. Hi, I’m Michael Hingson, Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe and the author of the number one New York Times bestselling book, Thunder dog, the story of a blind man, his guide dog and the triumph of trust. Thanks for joining me on my podcast as we explore our own blinding fears of inclusion unacceptance and our resistance to change. We will discover the idea that no matter the situation, or the people we encounter, our own fears, and prejudices often are our strongest barriers to moving forward. The unstoppable mindset podcast is sponsored by accessiBe, that’s a c c e s s i capital B e. Visit www.accessibe.com to learn how you can make your website accessible for persons with disabilities. And to help make the internet fully inclusive by the year 2025. Glad you dropped by we’re happy to meet you and to have you here with us.
Michael Hingson 01:20
Well and a gracious hello to you wherever you happen to be today. This is your host Mike Hingson on unstoppable mindset. And today we get to interview a lady I met just a few weeks ago at one of the Podapalooza events. And if you remember me talking at all about Podapalooza, it is an event for podcasters would be podcasters. And people who want to be interviewed by podcasters, and anybody else who wants to come along. And we’ve had four of them now altogether, and I’ve had the opportunity and the joy of being involved with all of them. And Paula Casey is one of the people who I met at the last podapalooza endeavor. Paula is in Memphis, Tennessee, and among other things, has spent the last 30 years of her life being very much involved in dealing with studying and promoting the history of women’s suffrage in the United States, especially where Tennessee has been involved. And we’re going to get to that we’re going to talk about it. We’re going to try not to get too political, but you know, we’ll do what we got to do and will survive. So Paula, no matter what, welcome to unstoppable mindset, how are you?
Paula Casey 02:29
I’m great. Thank you so much for having me. It’s always a joy to talk with you.
Michael Hingson 02:34
Well, I feel the same way. And we’re glad to do it. So let’s start, as I like to do at the beginning as it were. So tell us a little bit about you growing up and all that and you you obviously did stuff. You didn’t get born dealing with women’s suffrage. So let’s go back and learn about the early Paula.
Paula Casey 02:53
Okay, I grew up in Nashville, Tennessee, which is the capital of the great State of Tennessee. But you know, I was 21 years old before I knew that it was Tennessee, the last state that could possibly ratify the 19th amendment. And it’s just mind boggling to me when I look back and think, Well, how did we learn about this? I said, basically, it was because the textbooks only had one or two sentences. And they usually said, a napkin women were given the right to vote in 1920 as though it were bestowed by some benevolent entity. And it wasn’t until after college, and I met my dear friend, the light gray, Carol, when Yellen that I learned how significant the women’s suffrage movement was, and how it is even more surprising that my state Tennessee became the last state that could read it back.
Michael Hingson 03:50
Well, so when you were growing up in high school and all that, what were you kind of mostly interested in? Because you didn’t just suddenly develop an interest in history.
Paula Casey 04:00
I have good history teachers. And I’m very fortunate that I didn’t have football coaches. I have real history teachers. And I was involved in Student Council. I was an active girl scout. My parents were very good about making sure that my sister and I had lots of extracurricular activities. And I was a good kid. I didn’t do anything wrong. I was a teacher pleaser. I wanted to do well. I wanted to go to college because our parents brought us up girls are going to college. And we’ve my sister and I both knew that we were going to the University of Tennessee and mark small go big orange and go lady balls and just for the people who care about football, Tennessee right now is number one and the college football rankings. So we’re happy about that. But I have always been a staunch supporter of University of Tennessee because that was where I really learned about how important history was. And I was journalism, major journalism and speech. So that helped me on my path to public speaking, and learning more about this nonviolent revolution really became my passion and helping to get women elected to office.
Michael Hingson 05:11
Well, let’s deal with what you just said. I think it’s an extremely important thing. I’ll come at it in a little bit of a roundabout way, the Declaration of Independence talks about us having life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And it talks about all men are created equal. And all that spine, although I think if you ask most people, when we talk about being created equal, they interpreted as meaning everybody is supposed to be equal. But you pointed out that usually what people say is that women were granted the right to vote. Tell me more about that.
Paula Casey 05:51
Rights are crafted by the Constitution. And in the case of voting rights, the constitution provides for initially man with property white men of property. Then in 1870, the 15th Amendment provided for black man, the newly freed black male slaves. The 14th amendment is the first time the word male m a l. E appears in the Constitution. And the suffragists back then and let me just clarify this in the United States. It was suffragist, the British for the suffragettes and they were considered so radical that the Americans wanted to distinguish themselves. So people in the United States who advocated for women to have the right to vote or suffragist. So the constitution grants the right to vote and our Constitution has been expanded to provide for more groups to participate in the franchise, however, and I want to emphasize this set up by people understand us, what the 19th Amendment did was remove the barrier of gender, it does not guarantee a right to vote. Our United States Constitution does not guarantee the right to vote, it will grant the rights for removing particular barriers in our lighter Native Americans and Asians and all that. Well, at the end, I was around in the early 70s, when I was at University of Tennessee in Knoxville, when the 26th Amendment was ratified, which extended the right to vote to 18 year olds, and I got to vote in my first election when I was 19. And I have never missed an election. I just think it’s so important that we vote because that’s part of what democracy is all about. And the suffragists did not believe that democracy is a spectator sport. They believed in self government, and they wanted to participate in their government. That’s why they fought for 72 years to win that right, and to be able to participate by voting and running for office.
Michael Hingson 08:13
So going back to when the Constitution was formed. So what you’re saying is essentially, that the original Constitution truly was only dealing with men and not women being created equal, white man with property. Yeah. And what do you think about people today, who say that our constitution shouldn’t be any evolving and evolutionary kind of thing, that we should go strictly by what the Constitution says,
Paula Casey 08:52
I have two words for you.
Michael Hingson 08:55
Why nice to be nice, be nice,
Paula Casey 08:58
white supremacy. That’s what that means. When you talk about this originally, originalist stuff. It’s silly. It represents white supremacy. Yeah.
Michael Hingson 09:09
And that’s, that’s really the issue. I don’t know of any governing document that is so strict, that it shouldn’t be an evolutionary kind of a thing. We grow our attitudes change, we learn things. And we realize that we’ve disenfranchise from time to time, which is kind of some of the what you’ve been talking about in history trope.
Paula Casey 09:42
And people who say that, yeah, I don’t know if they really believe it. Yeah, you see these surveys or polls where they say, Oh, the average American didn’t understand the Bill of Rights and the Bill of Rights wouldn’t pass today. Well, thank goodness it did pass. And I want to say MIT to you that I don’t think the 19th amendment would have been ratified in this country, had it not been for the First Amendment. And as a former newspaper journalist, I’m a big believer and the First Amendment, I’ve been a member of the National Federation of press women since 1977. And the First Amendment is absolutely our guiding star. And it is so important for people to understand the significance of the First Amendment, the Bill of Rights and all of the additional amendments, the founding fathers, and if there were some women in there, too, even though they don’t get recognized, like Abigail Adams, who believed that the Constitution should evolve a non violent revolution is what it was about the passage of the Constitution. And when I speak every year, generally on Constitution Day, which is September 17, I always point out that Benjamin Franklin said, when he was asked in 1787, Dr. Franklin, what have you created? And he said, a republic, if you can keep it, and we need to heat those words. Tell us more. Why. I think that those individuals who were involved in the creation of the Constitution, and it was not an easy task. And there were very, very strong disagreements, but they did agree on democracy. And you know, Mike, that’s what this is all about. Whenever we talk about the suffrage movement, whenever I’m involved in markers, or monuments, highlighting the suffrage movement, I always point out this is about democracy and the rule of law. The suffragists believed in democracy, and that is why they fought a non violent revolution, 72 years from 1848 to 1920. But I believe that they proved the Constitution works. That’s what it’s about. And
Michael Hingson 12:11
you say that because of the fact that that women’s suffrage passed, or what, what makes you really say the Constitution works
Paula Casey 12:20
because they persevered. They utilized every tool available to them and a non violent way, particularly the First Amendment. And when you think about what is in the First Amendment, freedom of press, freedom to peaceably assemble the freedom to petition your government for redress of grievances, their ability to communicate, and to persevere for a cause in which they deeply believed. I mean, these women were not fly by night. They play the long game. And I think that’s what we can learn from down the first generation of women. And this goes back to Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Lucretia Mott and Megan bloomer. All the people who were at Seneca Falls in 1848. It was July 19, of 20 of the bait Team 48. They believed in democracy, they believed in self government and rule of law. They persevered within the parameters of what was available to them to peaceably assemble to petition their government. And I’ve got to tell you, I got to go to the National Archives, back in the early 90s. And I saw the handwritten letter from Susan B. Anthony, addressing her concerns her grievances with the United States government. And all of these women who were out there fighting, I mean, literally doing everything they could to make sure this issue was not diminished. As many people tried to do, that it wasn’t swept aside, they overcame enormous obstacles, but they believed in something greater than themselves. And that was democracy and the rule of law.
Michael Hingson 14:08
What is the lesson that we should learn today about the importance of women’s suffrage? I mean, you’ve been dealing with this now for over 30 years. Well, a long time, actually. And so what is the real significance of it?
Paula Casey 14:23
Why is so significant about studying the suffrage movement is that these women were prepared for the long game. They knew that it was not going to happen overnight, or possibly within their lifetimes. They fought the long fought for the long game. And when you look at persistence, perseverance, everything that they embodied there were poignant. out they were absolutely brilliant and we need to understand what they did and how they worked. To secure a right that we all take for granted today. And that’s why when I hear these silly things about, oh, the worst thing that ever happened, this crash was women getting the right vote, you know, and all that garbage. I just feel like we need to study what they did. And what was so significant, because it was peaceful, nonviolent, they adhere to the rule of law. They certainly enacted every part of First Amendment. And then those went and made it possible for us to have the rights we enjoy today. And you have to remember that everything that we enjoy today, these rights came because other people were willing to fight or dock for them. And that’s the whole thing about the right to vote. I mean, I’m the widow of a Vietnam veteran, and my husband served in Vietnam. I know, we still have a lot of questions about that war. But my daddy, who just died this year, he was a world war two veteran as well as a Korean War veteran. My father in law was an Army veteran who was throughout World War Two. So I take this right to vote seriously. And when I think about what our having grown up in Nashville, and Tennessee, and I’ve been in Memphis, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed in 1968, fighting for equal rights. And I’ve been in Memphis since January 1981. So I’m very passionate about women’s rights, civil rights, the right to vote, we need to know our history. And we need to understand that a lot of people fought died for us to have these rights, particularly the right to vote.
Michael Hingson 16:42
Well, without getting overly political about the process, we certainly seem to be having some challenges today, because there is a what appears to be a growing number of people who would retract a lot of the things that have been brought about and some of the rights that have been expanded and made available. And it’s it’s scary, I know that we who, for example, have happened to be persons with disabilities are worried about some of the voting issues. Because if they, if the wrong, people decide to take complaint and get complete control, they could pull back the Help America Vote Act, and the whole issue about having voting machines that are accessible and taking away accessible ballots and so on. And there’s so many other things going on? How do we get people to truly understand what happened with women’s suffrage and similar sorts of things? And how do we get people to recognize the dangers that we face today?
Paula Casey 17:47
That is such a great question. And I’ve got to tell you, Mike, I think about this just about every day. Here’s what you got to remember, ever since the beginning of this country, we have had people who consider themselves superior, and who do not want everyone to vote, it took me a long time to understand that. Because, you know, growing up in Nashville, and I mean, I had a great upper middle class life. And, you know, I’m educated, I’ve traveled I mean, I think I’m a fairly nice person. And I want everybody to vote. And I just couldn’t understand that there were people who would not want every American citizen to exercise the franchise, and that has become more and more apparent. And I have to tell you, I think that the election of Barack Obama had a lot to do with that with the backlash. And the idea that there are folks in this country who do not believe that everyone should have the right to vote. And so therefore, they consider themselves justified in putting up barriers to the voting process, which makes it incumbent upon people like us who want everyone to have access to the ballot, to try to figure out how to overcome the obstacles that they place in our path. At Bat, again, takes us back to the women’s suffrage movement. Those women endured all kinds of ridicule. I mean, it just it’s amazing when you look back and see the newspapers, and things that were written and said letters and things that are in archives, people who were dismissive both men and women, dismissive of the right to vote, because that was something that many people from the beginning of this country onward, felt like it should be limited, any access. So those of us who have been fighting for expanded access, are going to have to keep on fighting. We can’t give up and that’s what the suffrage just taught us cannot give up Have
Michael Hingson 20:01
you talked about the concept? And the fact that this was a nonviolent movement? Did those early suffragists experienced much violence from people?
Paula Casey 20:14
Yeah. Oh, yeah. Especially when they marched the 1913 suffrage parade in Washington, DC, and in New York City and night content, the I mean, Thurber police and looked the other way, a geonet. Something that’s happening today, too. But the idea that not everyone celebrated having universal suffrage. And that’s what I believe in universal suffrage, no matter what you believe. And you still should have access to the ballot, and we need to make it as accessible as we can. But we’ve just got to keep fighting because we’ve got to overcome the people that don’t want everyone to have access to the ballot.
Michael Hingson 21:01
You studied this a lot. What do you think the Founding Fathers view would be today? When founding mothers for that matter?
Paula Casey 21:09
Better? Such a great question, because everybody likes to think that they know what they would think. And I have to tell you, I have been on a run of reading David McCullough’s books. I am just really into BS, I’m researching 76 right now. And I’ve had John Adams forever. I’ve never finished it. So I’m going to finish that. Then I’ve got to do Teddy Roosevelt. And then I’m going to do Harry Truman. But the thing about John Adams, when Abigail wrote him to remember the ladies, he was dismissive. And he thought it was silly. And these man, okay, yes, they were products of their time. But there were very few real feminist among them. That’s what made Frederick Douglass stand out because he was so willing to stand up for women’s suffrage. But she looked back at those men. And I mean, honestly, my they didn’t know any differently. You think about what they were through. And the idea that women should be equal participants in a democracy was certainly a foreign thought to them. But there were so many people. And there were also areas that didn’t allow women to vote. But you know, New Jersey actually extended the franchise and then took it away. And then when people started moving westward, to develop the West, there were the men were adamant that because women were helping homestead and settled all of that land out there that they should be voting, if there were states that were not going to come into the Union if their women couldn’t vote. So this is not that unusual of an idea. But it took particularly enlightened man and women who pushed for it to happen. And I’ve got to point this out. I do not bash man because it took the man and those 36 state legislatures to ratify a Ninth Amendment, they voted to willingly expand power, and that needs to be acknowledged. Weird, we’re
Michael Hingson 23:20
we’re dealing with this, this whole issue of suffrage and rights and so on. Were any of the early founders of the United States, right from the outset? Supportive or more supportive? Do you think? Or do you know,
Paula Casey 23:35
trying to think, abolition and suffrage became closely linked? Yeah. So for those who advocated the abolition of slavery, they were probably more amenable. But again, what this really is about is the whole idea of who is a citizen? And I think that’s where and the founding of this country, clearly black people and Native Americans were not considered citizens. The question about women. I can’t think right offhand of any, quote, founding father who advocated for women to bow, they may have come up, you know, some of them may have come around, but you look back and think, who are the guys that we think about as founding fathers? I don’t think any of them was particularly feminist, or encouraging of women being thought of as citizens with full voting rights. And then you got into the issue of taxation without representation. You know, nothing’s new. That’s what you learned studying the women’s suffrage movement is it’s all been said or done for who is a citizen who should have the right to vote?
Michael Hingson 24:58
Well, I’m I’m think I mentioned to you When we chatted before, and you just brought up abolitionists, and I always remember the story of William Lloyd Garrison, who was trying to gain more people into the abolitionist movement. And he directed some of his people to contact the Grimm case sisters who were very staunch suffragists, right? And see, I got the word, right. And they said, No, we can’t do that. That’s not what their priority is. Their priority is all about women’s separatists that’s going to detract from what we’re all about. And in Henry Mayer’s book all on fire in telling the story, he says that Garrison said, it’s all the same thing. And that’s absolutely right. Whether it’s the right to vote, whether it’s the right to attend public school, whether it’s the right of persons with so called disabilities to have equal access, which doesn’t necessarily mean we do things the same way, but equal access to things in the United States. It’s all the same thing. Right. And I think that’s the most important message that we all want to take away. Or at least that’s part of the important message that we should take away. I don’t know how we change people’s minds today, though, we’re getting such a polarized world? And how do we get people to understand why being more open to everyone having equal opportunities, whether it be the right to vote or whatever? How do we get people to deal with that?
Paula Casey 26:45
I think we have to learn from what the separatists stat, we have to persevere. We have to be creative, and innovative. We just can’t give up. This is the long game we are in for the fight of our labs. And it won’t get better if people give up. That’s why we’ve got the hang in there. And truly, it is about democracy, you either believe in democracy or don’t. And that, to me is the bottom line. And when he talks about polarization, I think we also have to factor in disinformation, foreign governments being involved in our political processes. And frankly, as a former newspaper journalist, and someone with a journalism degree, I have to tell you, I think the media have failed us. They are not reporting on things that are happening. And I’ve got to tell you this mike, in the 1970s, my husband and I were in the newspaper business back then he was a great journalist, great editor. And we started watching the corporatization of news in the mid to late 70s. And now it’s like what, six or seven corporations, on all the major media, this is not good for our country. We work for a family owned newspaper business in Tennessee, that was bought out. And then now you have these giant firms and hedge funds, evil, I think they’re evil, and they’re buying up all of the media, this is not good for our country. And this means it is difficult to get the message out to people. And I really thought that social media would help and if anything, is probably been more of a hindrance. Sadly,
Michael Hingson 28:35
when you don’t have any kind of governing governors on what you do, like what we saw for several years recently, then, yeah, it certainly doesn’t help does it? Not. So well fight disinformation, as well as apathy. Yeah, and apathy is certainly a part of it. And you talked about the importance of voting, and we I’ve talked to a number of people who have never voted, oh, I’m not going to do that it won’t make a difference and so on. And they, and they continue to feel that way. And they just don’t vote and they’re not young people. But I’ve also found young people who do that, but I know some people who are in their 40s and 50s. And they’ve never voted in an election. And they’re fine with
Paula Casey 29:28
that. Yeah, that’s that’s what’s so sad because you’ve got to have parents or teachers, someone who inculcate in a young person, that it’s important to better and I will tell you, my sister and I grew up in a home where my parents were two newspapers voted in every election. My sister and I knew that it was important, we registered to vote. I mean, I I got to vote first time and I was 19. But I registered as soon as I could, after the 26th Amendment was ratified. And I’ve just think People have got to understand that democracy doesn’t work. If you don’t participate, democracy is not a spectator sport. And here again, this is something else that this brings up. When did they stop teaching civics in the schools? I love civics. I love teaching civics talking about civics. That’s part of the problem right there.
Michael Hingson 30:24
There are a lot of challenges. I think I know the answer to this one, since Tennessee was the 36th state to ratify the 19th Amendment. But why is it called the perfect 36?
Paula Casey 30:36
The editorial cartoonists of the day, the Tennessee the perfect 36 Because they did not know where that last state was going to come from. So think about here, let me set stage 3435 states have ratified. Three states absolutely refused to consider it because their governors were opposed. Connecticut, Vermont, Florida, nine states had outright rejected it. And berries were primarily in the south lawn with Maryland, a couple of years. Non states were checked it. It fell to Tennessee. And because Tennessee had a well organized group of suffragists across the state in all 95 of our counties, and we have wonderful man who supported this effort, including our United States senator Kenneth McKellar, who was from Memphis. So the stage was set. When Carrie Chapman Catt came to Nashville to stay at the Hermitage Hotel, which is fabulous. And I want your listeners to go to the heart teach hotel if they’re ever in Nashville, because it’s so significant in the suffrage battle. Both the Pro and anti suffrage forces stayed at the Hermitage and Carrie Chapman Catt stayed there. Along with Representative Joseph pan over from Memphis, who was the floor later, Carrie Chapman cat asked him to be the suffrage fight. So because of the editorial cartoonist and because we were the last state that could ratify, that’s where the name of the perfect 36 came from.
Michael Hingson 32:20
Well, for you personally, what really got you interested in becoming so deeply involved in studying the suffrage movement because it’s clearly become very personal for you.
Paula Casey 32:34
My husband, dad and July 1988. And Carolyn Yellin, spent a lot of time with me. We had actually been at the National Women’s Conference in November of 1977. That was an exciting time I was one of the youngest delegates there. And Carol Lam talked to me about the research that she had done and and I want people to know about this because this is really important. After back McCain was killed in Memphis in 1968. Carolyn Yellin her husband, David Yellin, who was a broadcaster and several other folks put together a group called the search for meaning committee. And they compiled everything they could about what was happening in Memphis. And every book that has been written since then about Dr. King, and what happened in Memphis, has utilized their research. Well, while Carolyn was doing this research, she came across this Tennessee story and she was working with from Oklahoma. She didn’t even come here from New York City. He ran the broadcasting department, a inaugurated at what was then known as Memphis State University. And Carolyn said, you know, this is kind of important. Yeah, that may, Tennessee was last, I think the ratify. So she started doing research. And she found descendants. And she also talked with two of the man who were still living. Harry Byrne died in 1977. Joseph Hanover did not got until 1984 and I met him in 1983. He was the for later, who Mrs. Cat had asked, Can the pro surfers votes together, had it not been for Joe Hannover. I’m telling you tonight, the amendment would not have been ratified in Tennessee. He Carolyn always said to me, he was the real hero. So we started working on a book because she had said she wanted to do this book. So I’m thinking I have a lot of graduated from UT Knoxville and the University of Tennessee press will want to do this book, because we have all this original research. So we’re calling you to press. And the woman said to me, and we’ve already dealt with on women’s suffrage, and was very dismissive. And I was just really stunned and I said Okay, thank you. So I started thinking about it later and I wished I’d had the presence of mind to say she nobody ever says that about the Civil War. You know, all they do is write books about the damn civil war. I mean, I grew up in Nashville, believe me, I had been, I was indoctrinated with Lost Cause mythology. So I start looking. And finally we get somebody who’s willing to publish it. And you gotta remember this. We published it originally in 1998. I’ve done a re plan, and I’ve done the e book and the audio book, and Dr. Dre and Sherman came to Memphis in 1994. We started working on the book in 1996. We got the first edition published in May of 1998. And I was able to put it in Carolyn’s hands, her breast cancer had returned, and she got in March of 99. So I was just so grateful that her research resulted in that book. And then Dr. Sherman, who had her PhD from Wright first wrote about the long journey from the Revolutionary War up to what happened in Nashville in 1920. So we’re really proud of the book, and I continue to sell it to libraries and individuals because you know, that history is it’s very well recorded in our book. And so I’m really proud of it and I’ve got a hold of a copy. The perfect body six, Tennessee delivers women’s suffrage and the cover is Downtown Memphis Main Street, 1916. It was called The Great monster suffrage point.
Michael Hingson 36:29
Do you know if the book has been put into audio format today?
Paula Casey 36:33
Yes, Dr. Sherman read the audio books. I have an audio book and the ebook and awkward formats.
Michael Hingson 36:39
So is it on
Paula Casey 36:39
Audible? Yes. Oh, it’s on lots of ebook platforms and an audio book platforms.
Michael Hingson 36:47
Well, great. Then I’m gonna go hunted down. I think that will be fun to read.
Paula Casey 36:54
Music terrible. I forgot period music. We had a great producer David Wolf out Albuquerque did the audio. But
Michael Hingson 37:02
here’s a question totally off the wall. totally subjective. But do you think Abraham Lincoln would have supported this women’s suffragists movement?
Paula Casey 37:15
I do. And let me tell you why. It’s so interesting. You should ask that. Have you heard about Jon Meacham? snoo book?
Michael Hingson 37:22
No, I have not. Okay.
Paula Casey 37:23
Jon Meacham is a Tennessee boy. We were at the Chattanooga you know, he lives in Nashville May. I was in New York City for years and years. And he and his wife are in Nashville because he is a professor at Vanderbilt University. And he was on Lawrence O’Donnell, I think last night on Well, whenever it was on MSNBC, talking about his new book about Abraham Lincoln. And then there was like, Abraham Lincoln. I mean, it he has fast to think of keep up with Cain. He believed in abolishing slavery, but he traded people with dignity. And I think that he could have been persuaded that, you know, the union wasn’t gonna provide as a women’s voting union was gonna define over whether it was okay to enslave other human beings. And when you think about the idea that it was okay to own other human beings that’s just repulsive just today, but back then, Lincoln had his work cut out for him. But I do think because he believed and he he studied them. She’s such a thoughtful man. And I’m looking forward to reading John’s book, because I think all of his books are terrific. But I really want to read this one, because I think Abraham Lincoln was enlightened in his own way, and he probably would have come around to support it. Yeah,
Michael Hingson 38:53
he just had other issues that were as important, if not more important, like keeping the country together if he could. Right. So it was, it was certainly a big challenge. And,
Paula Casey 39:07
you know, 1848, by Seneca Falls happened, but then the surfer just recognized that the Civil War was going to take priority over everything. And so they were essentially derailed, but it was after the Civil War. And the 14th and 15th amendments came up or 13th amendment, you know, to abolish slavery, but the 15th Amendment, extended the franchise to the newly freed black male slaves, and I want to point something out here. There’s a lot of misinformation about who could vote and the aftermath of the Civil War and then later and they you heard this and I heard this a lot in 2020, during the centennial celebration, and let me point out that separatist endured a pandemic just like we have, and they persevered and they want to spike the pandemic. And there is a school We’ll start, which I happen to agree with that the 1965 Voting Rights Act would not have applied to black women. Had the 19th Amendment not been ratified the 15th Amendment and the 19th Amendment event, the Voting Rights Act was about the enforcement of those two amendments. And when people say, Oh, we’re black women are unable to vote. No, that is not true. The 19th Amendment did not say white women. It says equality of suffrage shall not be denied. I can’t have sex. That’s all it says I can’t have sex. And so it removes the gender barrier to voting and had nothing to do with race. What did have to do with race was the states. The constitution grants the right to states set the policies and procedures for voting. And it was in the States where you have Jim Crow laws, and Paul taxes and literacy tests and all that garbage that was designed to keep people from voting. The states did it, not the Ninth Amendment. And we have documentation of black women voting in Nashville, Clarksville, Tennessee, about Tachyon and Memphis,
Michael Hingson 41:15
you have been involved in placing various suffragist related art around Tennessee. Can you tell us or would you tell us about that?
Paula Casey 41:25
Yes, I am very excited about this. When you go to a city, wherever you go in this country, you notice if you’re working about the public art, and who is depicted in statuary, and for too long, we have not acknowledged the contributions of women and public art. So back in 1997, Van state senator Steve Cullen from Memphis, who is now my ninth district, Congressman Steve is great. Steve is the one who said we have got to have something inside state capitol. So put me on this committee. And he said you’re going to serve on this committee. And there’s going to be a blind competition that the Tennessee Arts Commission will sponsor and we’re going to select somebody to design something to go inside state capitol because think about this, Tennessee ratified August 18 1920. And up until February of 1998. There was nothing inside the Tennessee State Capitol building that depicted Tennessee’s pivotal role. Oh, American women’s vote today, thanks to Tennessee. So Steve puts me on this committee. We have a blind competition. Owl on the far west Wednesday. And on the back of our perfect 36 book, I have a picture of the bar leaf that is hanging between the House and Senate chambers, and the Tennessee State Capitol building. Okay, fast forward to 2009. Former Vermont Governor Madeleine Kunin came to Nashville to give a speech at the Economic Summit for women and she was picked up by Tierra backroads and she said to the women who picked her up, take me to see your monument to the suffragist. I know that Kelsey was the state that made it Wow. And they said, Oh, Governor, we’re so sorry, the state capitol building is closed. And this is where that bodily is hanging inside State Capitol. And she said to them, you Tennessee women should be ashamed. You should have something that is readily accessible. So that started our efforts to put together the Tennessee women’s suffrage monument. And we commissioned our look bar and 2011 We got really serious in 2012. I was asked to be the president in May of 2013, which mount where you raise the money and I raise 600,000 for this $900,000 monument that is now in Centennial Park. Nashville. Centennial Park is gorgeous. It’s historic. Susan B. Anthony was actually in that park in 1897. And she inspired and Dallas Dudley of Nashville to get involved Suffrage Movement. And Anne was beautiful and wealthy. And she became a great suffrage leader on the state level and the national level. So we got together at our McQuire studio in Nashville. He’s at West Nashville. And they asked me who should we put on this minute but and because Carolyn Yellin had been my mentor and my friend, I said, we need to have an Dallas deadly from Nashville. Frankie Parris from Nashville who was a major black separatist, who registered over 2500 Black women to vote in Nashville in 1998. We had Sue Shaun White and Jackson who was the only Tennessee woman put in jail fighting for suffrage. And Abby Crawford Milton from Chattanooga, there wasn’t really anybody that I was going to push for from Memphis at that moment because I knew that we were eventually going to do a Memphis separate monument. But I said, Karen Chapman Catt, who was originally from Iowa, and you know, okay, so yeah, New York, Carolyn Yellen said that Carrie Chapman Catt should have been the first woman to become a United States Senator from New York. But she was so spent after the savage battle and she had a serious heart condition. So I said when he put Carrie Chapman Catt on there because she wanted to pick it in statuary. She was brilliant. And so we had the spot women heroic scale. They’re nine feet tall. They’re in the Nashville Centennial Park. So that’s the Tennessee one separate monument. Allen was commissioned to do to get our Knoxville I worked on the advising the Tennessee triumph and Clarksville, Tennessee. And it’s fabulous. It’s got a woman putting her ballot in the ballot box. And beyond Ben Jackson, I helped raise the money and that was only 32,000 to do a burst of soup shot right in front of Jackson City Hall and bed, Memphis, my hometown. We have the Memphis suffrage monument equality trailblazers, that monument cost $790,190 average every penny of it because I have wonderful friends, and a city council on a county commission that gave major money so that we could preserve the legacies of these important people. And so in the Memphis monument, which is at the law school, for the University of Memphis, facing the Mississippi River, I live right down by the river. You can see that monument in the daytime or at night. And what’s so great about this, Mike is that people see it and they just rave about it. And school children go there and they read about these remarkable people. And I point this out to everyone when I’m doing chores, or when I gave speeches. The reason we do these markers and monuments is because these people deserve to be remembered. And when we’re all gone, that was mine knits and markers will be there telling the story and I’m just grateful that I had been able to have this experience to preserve the wiper sees of these remarkable Oregon people.
Michael Hingson 47:35
Now as I recall the monument at the University of Memphis the ceremony dedicating it is on YouTube, yes. Do you know how people can easily find it? Do you know a link or
Paula Casey 47:50
I think if you go on YouTube, you can type in Downtown Memphis Commission because the Downtown Memphis Commission produced it. It’s on their YouTube channel and I actually have it on my YouTube channel, Paula FKC. And I believe it’s easy to find it was March 27 2022, the dedication ceremony for the Memphis suffrage monument, but you can actually see it and I’ve got to tell you this, I’m so excited. My friend, Michelle duster, who is the great granddaughter about to be Wales and I’m going to hold up her book out to be the queen Michelle gave me her family’s blessing. And she and her brothers wanted to write the bio that’s lasered on the class for ATAPI wills. And Alan had sculpted a bust of atopy Wales along with five others. And she was so excited about it. And we had so much fun when she came to Memphis. And it was just such a great experience for us to celebrate the wives of atopy wills and Mary Church, Terrell, and all of the people from Memphis, Shelby County, who fought to get that night keep that amendment ratified. And then those women whose careers were made possible in politics, because of the suffragists victory, said, Michelle has been a great ally and champion of our monument.
Michael Hingson 49:14
So I think we’ve talked around a lot of this, but ultimately, what can we learn from the Chuffer suffragists movement? What lessons can we take forward? And I guess even before that, do you think that those who led and were the basis of the separatist movement would be surprised at what we’re experiencing today? Now?
Paula Casey 49:40
I think they would just take it in stride, and they would expect it because they’ve dealt with backlash, and obstacles, ridicule, sarcasm, obstructionism, they saw it all. That’s why I keep telling people when you study history, you learned that nothing is new. And it is so important for us to recognize the people who help move history forward, they help make sure that our society goes forward and that we are on the right side of history, when it comes to the expansion of rights, and inclusion, diversity, inclusion, all of this should just be something that we do, because it’s the right thing to do. And because we understand how important it is for everyone, to participate in our government, in our society, why don’t we want to be close, I don’t want to live on Wi Fi. But I want to celebrate people who have done great things. I want to be able to tell young people that they can be aspirational, that they can vote to the example set by these people who accomplish something right over enormous opposition.
Michael Hingson 50:58
Clearly, these women, and anyone who is committed to this process, to use my term would be unstoppable, which is, which is a great thing. And clearly you are helping to promote that. And I think that is extremely important. And it does go beyond suffrage, women’s suffrage, it goes to anyone who has been disenfranchised by whatever the system might be. And we do have to fight the fights, we can’t step back, we have to stand for what we believe in. And I think that it is important that we do it in a non violent way. I suspect that if he had lived back in the time of women’s suffrage, Gandhi would be a very great supporter, don’t you think?
Paula Casey 51:51
Yeah, he would have come around. Yeah, he was kind of sexist.
Michael Hingson 51:55
Well, you know, it’s the environment. But non violence was certainly his
Paula Casey 51:59
right. As Susan B. Anthony was entered non violence long before Gandhi and dark cane and she never gets recognized for it. Yeah.
Michael Hingson 52:09
Yeah, it did not start in the 1900s. But it is something that we all ought to take to heart. Now. Let’s let’s be clear, non violence, as opposed to civil disobedience.
Paula Casey 52:25
Right, right. Yeah. I mean, Susan Bay was all for civil disobedience. And you know, like when she tried to vote, and Elizabeth every Merriweather from Memphis was so inspired by Susan B. Anthony’s example, that she went to go vote in Memphis in 1873. And she said they gave her a ballot, probably because she was considered an aristocracy. But she said she wasn’t sure if her vote was counted. Yeah. And so that’s the whole thing about, you know, who can vote who’s citizen who has access to the ballot. And another thing that we have to think about is who’s going to count the votes? We’re never used to have to worry about that so much.
Michael Hingson 53:07
And it’s unfortunate that we have to worry about it today. I think for the longest time, we assumed that the system worked. And mostly I think it did. And it does. But now, there is so much fear and so much distrust because of what some are doing that we have to be concerned about. Who’s counting the votes? I watched a news report last night about how ballots are handled in San Bernardino County. And the process is absolutely amazing. When the ballots come in, the first thing that’s checked is is the signature and the comparison is made as to whether it’s a legal signature that’s done by a group of people. And then the ballot is opened. And the ballot is just checked for anything damaged or anything that looks irregular. And then it goes to a different group of people now a third group that counts the ballots, and one of the points that they made, and I actually hadn’t thought of it, although I should have. But until they mentioned it is and none of the machines and none of the technologies and none of the process involved in counting the ballots in San Bernardino County and I suspect in a lot most places, nothing is connected to the internet. Right? Oh, nothing can go off and destroy or warp the ballot, the process. That’s good to know. Yep, I think it should be that way. I’ve seen some companies who are concerned enough about the internet and what people can do that their accounting systems are never attached to the internet and it makes perfect sense given everything that’s going on today. So other computers can be compromised. But the accounting and monetary parts of the companies are not connected to the internet at all. They’re not on the network, right? Even the local network.
Paula Casey 55:14
So what can I mention the three man who were so essential in Tennessee? Sure. This is such a great story. And I have to tell you, my friend, Bill Haltom, of Netflix is a great author and retired attorney. He did this book, because I asked him to on representative Joseph Hanover rock, Kent mother vote. Joseph Hanover, was an immigrant from Poland. His family was Orthodox Jewish, and they fled, because the Tsar took their property. And so many Jewish immigrants were coming into this country, because they had to flee oppression. And he came to this country along with his mother and two brothers, his father came first and ended up in Memphis, and saved the money for them to flee Poland. Now, let me tell you, my key talk about unstoppable mindset. Those people who were searching for freedom, and they had crossed a frozen lake and come across in the bowels of a steamship. And Joe was five years old, and he went upstairs and start bands and people were throwing money at it. When they got to this country, they came through Ellis Island, and band came through via St. Louis down to Memphis, some in Memphis. And he was so taken with this country and the country’s founding documents, because his parents kept telling their boys they had three and then they had two more. And they told them, you’re living in the greatest country. You have rights in this country that we did not have public. You’ve got study the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence. And of course, the Declaration of Sentiments in 1848, at Seneca Falls was patterned after the declaration of independence. So Mr. Joe decides that he’s going to run for the legislature, and he went to law school and studied by all Lampe in his family’s home in being Hampton, which is a part of Memphis back then it was north of Memphis. I am so excited because the national votes for women trail, I’ve been the Tennessee coordinator, and I really pushed to get one of the poverty foundation markers for Mr. Joe. We got it last week, it has been put up on the side of the Hanover family home. And I encourage people who are listening or watching this podcast to look up the national votes for women trail and see all of the people across the 48 states because remember, Alaska and Hawaii weren’t states back. We have got Mr. Joe hit with his marker. Then we’ve also got the sculpture that Allah required date of Harry burn. Now Mr. Joe knew the morning of August 18th 1920, that he was two boats short of ratification in the House, the Senate in Tennessee had passed it 25 Four, but the house was very close to being deadlocked. And because of the opposition and the money, here’s what you’ve got to remember. People who are opposed to right are always going to have more money. That’s just a given. So you have to be smarter, and work harder and be more innovative. Mr. Joe did everything he could to keep those pro surfers votes together and it came down to two votes. And he didn’t know where they’re going to come from. That this is anecdote that Bill Haltom and I’ve done some research. We think this is true. There was a state representative from West Tennessee north of Jackson and Gibson county named banks Turner. He was a farmer, a Vanderbilt educated lawyer and he had been antiseptic. Now banks Turner ended up sitting and Governor Roberts office on the morning of August the 18th. That vote was gonna take place in the house. And Governor Roberts, who had actually he came around but he supported it. So he’s talking to governor of Ohio governor Cox Governor Cox was besieging Governor Roberts of Tennessee to please get Tennessee to pass because remember, both political parties thought that women would vote for them in the 1920 presidential election. The best flip the push was to make it possible for American women to vote in the presidential election. Now Tennessee had as did other states, something called limited suffrage or municipal suffrage where women can only vote in school board or presidential electors, but not universal suffrage, which meant they could vote now elections. So Tennessee women worked and I think would have had a chance to vote. But the political parties wanted Tennessee to ratify so that women and all the 48 states would have the opportunity to vote in the 1920 presidential election. So banks Charter, the Vanderbilt educated lawyer and farmer from Gibson County, Tennessee who had been an Attock is sitting there listening to Governor Roberts and the conversation. And Governor Roberts pointed at banks Turner and said something to the effect of I’m sitting here looking at the man who can make this happen. So banks charter didn’t tell anybody that he had met with Senator Roberts and he goes to the floor of the house. And there were attempts made to table the notion which meant to kill it, because they didn’t want to have to go on record, and a special session of 1920 if they could delay it until the regular session in January of 1921, and then effectively kill it for all time. Well, Johanna never knew that he was to vote short. Though Joe Hanover and banks Turner voted to table the voted against tabling the motion Harry Berg voted twice to table the motion. However, banks Turner kept it alive because it deadlocked 4848, which meant the amendment was alive and proceeded to the farm vote for ratification. The Speaker of the House was Seth Walker from Lebanon, Tennessee and he was a very wildlife lawyer had initially been four separate Jiminy ends up being an atta. And he thought that because it had deadlocked on the motion to table 4848 that the same thing was gonna happen with the actual vote of ratification, which would have killed it, that he did not know that Harry Barr, who was a state representative from now to candidacy outside of Chattanooga, and was received a letter from his mother and widow who own property, and she wanted to be able to vote in our elections. So she says in this letter, dear son, her rod vote for suffrage. I had been reading the paper with you see where you stood and haven’t been able to say anything. Please help Mrs. Cat put the rat and ratification from his mother. So Harry, what the roll call was taken, voted for it voted ah. And it caught the anti separatists by surprise. But the processor just realized that it was going to pass 49 to 47. And so SEC Walker, being a parliamentary maneuver specialist, changed his vote from May to ah, so that he would be able to prevail anxiety to bring it up for reconsideration. But what that did was it gave it a constitutional majority 50 to 46. So that it would pass constitutional muster, and they had attempts to be railing and all kinds of shenanigans. But Tennessee, became the last state to ratify the perfect 36 on August 18 1920. And we celebrate that accomplishment and everything with those men did. And I have been very pleased that we got a Tennessee Historical Commission marker in Gibson County for thanks, Turner. We’ve got the Harry burn statue, and there’s a marker in his home place and Nauta and then I have got the Palmer foundation mark of Joe Hanover. And Adam afar, Scott did his best on the Memphis suffrage monument. So what these men did, because they believed in democracy and rule of law, it will be there for future generations to know
Michael Hingson 1:04:25
what a great story and there’s no better way to end our episode today then with that and what it really means if people want to learn more about all of this and maybe contact you and learn about your book and so on. How can they do that?
thperfect36.com theperfect36.com or Paulacasey.com And I would love to hear from folks you know the books are available the audio book, the ebook and the DVD generations American women when the This is all about celebrating democracy and the rule of law and the right to vote. And thank you so much.
Well, Paula, thank you and I really appreciate you coming on. I love history I have not read enough David McCullough books and have to work on that some but and we will, but I have Red Team of Rivals. So that’s not David McCollum. But still, history is an important thing for us. And we learned so much that whatever we think is new really isn’t same concepts coming up in a different way. Right. But thank you all for listening. I’d love to hear from you. Please. Wherever you are, just shoot me an email. Let me know what you thought of today’s podcast. Please give us a five star review. This is an informative episode and one that I think people really need to hear. So I hope you will pass on about this. Give us a five star rating. Email me at Michaelhi M I C H A E L H I at accessibe.com or visit our podcast page. www dot Michael hingson H i n g s o n.com/podcast. And definitely let us know your thoughts. And once more Paula Casey, we really appreciate you coming on and educating us and telling us all about this subject which is I think so important and teaches us so many lessons we need to take to heart.
Paula Casey 1:06:25
You have been listening to the Unstoppable Mindset podcast. Thanks for dropping by. I hope that you’ll join us again next week, and in future weeks for upcoming episodes. To subscribe to our podcast and to learn about upcoming episodes, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com slash podcast. Michael Hingson is spelled m i c h a e l h i n g s o n. While you’re on the site., please use the form there to recommend people who we ought to interview in upcoming editions of the show. And also, we ask you and urge you to invite your friends to join us in the future. If you know of any one or any organization needing a speaker for an event, please email me at speaker at Michael hingson.com. I appreciate it very much. To learn more about the concept of blinded by fear, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com forward slash blinded by fear and while you’re there, feel free to pick up a copy of my free eBook entitled blinded by fear. The unstoppable mindset podcast is provided by access cast an initiative of accessiBe and is sponsored by accessiBe. Please visit www.accessibe.com. accessiBe is spelled a c c e s s i b e. There you can learn all about how you can make your website inclusive for all persons with disabilities and how you can help make the internet fully inclusive by 2025. Thanks again for listening. Please come back and visit us again next week.