Sometimes the decision of an individual can make all the difference.
Febb Burns knew what she wanted, and what she wanted was the right to vote. A college-educated white woman, she yearned to do what her white male neighbors in East Tennessee did every election day. But while she did not have that right, her son, Harry, did—not just as a citizen, but as a member of the Tennessee House of Representatives. The last to vote on ratification of the 19th Amendment, the body was closely divided between “yea” and “nay.” Even though Harry wore a red rose signifying opposition, he also carried with him a letter from his mother urging him to support the amendment. Listening to his mother and his conscience, vote “yea” he did, knowingly risking his seat. Boxer tells the story succinctly, clearly drawing the political lines so that young readers will understand the dynamics. Mildenberger’s inclusion of a few black women among those demonstrating for the vote reflects the historical reality that black women were part of the suffrage movement, but it also implies greater equality than truly existed, compounding Boxer’s elision of the fact that Jim Crow laws denied African Americans, both male and female, the vote. Irritatingly, though an illustration includes part of what is presumably Febb’s letter, that those were her words is never confirmed.
An inspiring though incomplete look at a critical historical moment. (author’s note, timeline) (Informational picture book. 5-8)