NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) – Tucked between two railroad bridges, on the wings of the tunnels in Capitol View, are three new murals for the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage and the ratification of the 19th amendment.
This week, August 26, 2020, marks 100 years since the amendment was adopted.
“To think of the impact those women had and to still see it coming to fruition today is a really powerful thing,” says Anthony Billups, the owner and founder of Music City Murals. Both Billups and Olasumbomi Bashorun, the owner of DBO Gallery, are the artists behind all the murals.
A project not only of remembrance but to bring to light the life of Frankie Pierce.
Bashorun says, "Art, a lot of times is created to catch attention and it can make change. So all of the things she's done in her life made change but not many people right now know about her." Billups adding, “just reading about the things that she did and learning about the impact she had in her time, was just really incredible to see what one person, what one woman can accomplish."
The murals were commissioned by Boyle Investments and CSX Transportation.
Jeff Haynes, a Partner at Boyle says of the project, "The Capitol View neighborhood has such a rich history of leaders like Frankie Pierce and Nelson Merry that were instrumental in the women's suffrage and civil rights movements, and for the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, we wanted to honor that," said Jeff Haynes, partner with Boyle. "Frankie Pierce and countless other suffragists fought tirelessly for women's right to vote, even though many African American women, including Frankie, were unable to cast their own ballot until years later. These murals were a perfect way to bring attention to this historic milestone, and what better place to paint them than at Frankie Pierce Park."
Between 1920 to 2020, the artists say they still see a desire for change and hope the murals serve as a reminder of what one person can accomplish especially if they’re accompanied by others.
“When you look to see it took 100 years for this to have an impact I hope the young people that are protesting, that are marching, that are standing up for what they believe in realize it's not about us. It's about 100 years from now and the impact that it has,” says Billups.
The murals, all on Nelson Merry Street are also the entry way to Frankie Pierce Park.
MP&F Strategic Communications adds this information:
Juno Frankie Pierce was an influential leader in the African-American community and in the local women’s suffrage movement. She served on committees for the Red Cross, YMCA and YWCA, founded the Nashville Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs and the Tennessee Vocational School for Colored Girls, and addressed the state suffrage convention at the state Capitol in 1920. Many of Pierce’s social services endeavors directly benefitted the residents who lived in the Capitol View neighborhood during her lifetime.
Pierce received her formal education at the Joseph G. McKee Freedmen School and Roger Williams University, and became a teacher herself in Nashville at Belleview School. She was an active member of the First Baptist Colored Church on Eighth Avenue North, led by Nelson Merry, and was outspoken on improving conditions for African-American individuals and women in Nashville. In 1951, the Nashville Chapter of Links, Inc., a national organization for professional women of color, named Pierce “Woman of the Year.” Pierce passed away in 1954 and is memorialized on the Alan LeQuire Tennessee Woman Suffrage Monument in Centennial Park and now at Frankie Pierce Park at Capitol View.