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Women’s suffrage monument to debut in Nashville
Price Chambers for the Tennessean

The Metro Council took action late Tuesday to rename Capitol Boulevard in downtown Nashville after a Tennessee women suffragist who was key to women gaining the right to vote.

The one-block street will now be known as Anne Dallas Dudley Boulevard, capping a push started by Nashville attorney and local historian David Ewing three years ago.

Dudley helped lead Tennessee’s women’s suffrage movement a century ago and later pushed for ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920.

Yellow roses were placed on the desks of each council member to commemorate the vote.

“Anne Dallas Dudley is one of the greatest Tennesseans of all times,” Ewing has said of his push that began in 2014. “Because of the work of Anne Dallas Dudley in this city, 27 million women got the right to vote.”

Tuesday’s vote, which was unanimous, fell exactly 103 years after a famous May 2, 1914 march led by Dudley that began outside the Tennessee state Capitol and ended at Centennial Park, where the socialite, homemaker and mother of two spoke in favor of the right for women to vote.

Councilman Freddie O’Connell, whose district includes downtown, and Councilwoman Karen Jonson were lead sponsors of the name-change.

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Capitol Boulevard, which has been named that way since opening in 1913, stretches from the Main Downtown Library on Church Street one block to Legislative Plaza. Dudley’s parade route in 1914 went down the boulevard as she led a parade of 60 automobiles to Centennial Park, where around 2,000 supporters were there to greet her.

The event marked Nashville’s largest women’s suffrage rally to date and the largest attended outdoor speech for a woman in Tennessee at the time, according to Ewing.

Dudley, daughter of a wealthy cotton mill owner, was among the founders of the Nashville Equal Suffrage League in 1911, and later the Tennessee Equal Suffrage League, which organized more chapters in some 60 Tennessee counties to lobby state lawmakers to approve the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, giving women the right to vote.

On Aug. 18, 1920, Tennessee became the final state required to ratify the 19th Amendment, with the Tennessee House of Representatives famously approving the amendment by a single vote.

The street-renaming comes after Nashvillians in August commemorated Women’s Equality Day by unveiling a new monument at Centennial Park of Dudley and four other women’s suffrage leaders from Tennessee.

Ewing was also instrumental in the Metro Parks and Recreation Department in March restoring the name of East Nashville’s Frederick Douglass Park after the famous abolitionist. The name had been abandoned for Fred Douglas Park years ago.

In an unrelated effort, the council voted last month to re-name an overpass on Jefferson Street after Bishop Joseph Walker III, pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Nashville.

Reach Joey Garrison at 615-259-8236 and on Twitter @joeygarrison.

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