From The Jackson Sun | May 26, 2017 By Brittney L Jackson
Dozens gathered outside Jackson City Hall for the unveiling of the Sue Shelton White monument on Thursday afternoon.
Born in Chester County in 1887, White fought for equal voting rights for women.
“Because of Sue Shelton White, my wife, my two daughters (and) my granddaughter [have] the same right as my son, my grandson and me,” Madison County Mayor Jimmy Harris said.
The Lady Warrior
Known for her steel persistence and perseverance, White was an equal rights activist and the first female attorney in Jackson. She helped organize the Jackson Equal Suffrage League and became Tennessee’s chairperson of the National Woman’s Party.
In 1919, White was sentenced to five days in the workhouse for burning a picture of President Woodrow Wilson as she picketed at the White House. She was the only Tennessee suffragist to spend time in jail for suffrage work.
“Heritage tourism is a major economic factor in our state, and Sue White certainly deserves to be recognized for her contributions to our city, our state and to America,” Sue Shelton White Memorial Committee president Jacque Hillman said.
White went to Washington, D.C., as a friend of Eleanor Roosevelt, and the Social Security Act was written under her guidance, Hillman noted.
Hillman got involved with the Tennessee Woman Suffrage Monument Board in Nashville about four years ago. The Nashville monument includes White and four other women.
“The more I studied and researched Sue Shelton White, I knew that we needed a statue here in Jackson,” she said.
Two years ago, she started the Sue Shelton White Memorial Committee in Jackson with about 15 members.
“It is a joyous feeling,” Hillman said. “We are so excited that we have reached this point of honoring Sue Shelton White.”
White fought to see that women across America had the right to vote. She wanted to help people who were struggling because she watched her mother struggle when they were poor, living in Chester County.
White was born on May 25, 1887, and died at 56 in 1943, but her monument is timeless.
The Sculptor, Wanda Stanfill, portrayed White in her early 30s, facing to the East because that is the direction she needed to go for change, Stanfill said.
From the designing stages to when it was completed, the bronze sculpture took Stanfill about three years to complete.
“Sue Shelton White was a remarkable woman, and to be a part of this committee and have the privilege of creating the sculpture was a tremendous honor for me,” she said.
Just by being from the area, Stanfill knew about White, but it wasn’t until she started doing some research that she realized the magnitude of how White served the American people.
It is important to continue the legacy of the brave women who fought hard for equal voting rights and for democracy, Stanfill said.
The monument is part of the Tennessee Woman Suffrage Heritage Trail, which is celebrating the centennial of the 19th Amendment in 2020.
“We must remember the past, hold fast to the present and build for the future. If you stand in your accepted place today, it is because some woman had to fight yesterday. We should be ashamed to stand on ground won by women in the past without making an effort to honor them by winning a higher and wider field for the future. It is a debt we owe.” — Sue Shelton White (1887-1943)
Reach Brittney Jackson at email@example.com or 731-425-9643.