Growing up, I was always told by my grandmother that, her uncle, Rep. Banks Turner of Gibson County, Tennessee, was responsible for the vote for women's suffrage - ultimately ratifying the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution. Banks and his wife, Ivie, had no children, thus my grandmother was like a daughter to them. Banks died long before I was born, but Aunt Ivie was a fixture in my childhood, living until I was 10.


Though many publications this year are finally giving Banks Turner his due (I'll post some of those at the bottom), one man, Don Enss, a researcher at Middle Tennessee State University, has made it his personal mission to ensure that Banks' legacy is fully understood. My family and I are grateful for Don's efforts - and his enthusiasm. Don even made a banner to honor Banks, and placed it in his front yard.


The rest of this post is a submission that Don made to Tennessee newspapers just in time to celebrate the centennial of the amendment that gave women in the United States the right to vote. - MKH


By DON ENSS

Citizens of Gibson County, the State of Tennessee, and the United States should

acknowledge and honor the role of Rep. Banks P. Turner, Gibson County’s native son,

when he cast three crucial votes on August 18, 1920. Those votes cast in the

legislature’s special session affected the outcome of the ratification of the Nineteenth

Amendment, which ended the long struggle of women across our state and nation to

win the right to vote.

This year as we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the ratification, let’s give him

the long overdue credit he deserves. His role was overshadowed by Harry Burn, a

representative from Niota in East Tennessee, who voted for the Amendment and gave

as one of his reasons a letter he had received from his mother urging him to vote for it. I

am glad he did, but here is the rest of story.

After months of campaigning by both sides – Suffragists and Anti-suffragists, it

came down to one day – August 18, 1920. Rep. Joe Hanover, an Independent from

Memphis, served as the floor leader and fought valiantly to keep the pro-suffrage votes

together. He knew going into session that day he was two votes short. Seth Walker, the

Speaker of the House, believed that he had the votes to defeat the Amendment. To

provide cover for those who might be on the fence and did not want to anger their

constituents by voting for or against it, he gave them a way out. He introduced a motion

to table the state Senate’s resolution, which had ratified the Amendment 25-4 and sent

to the House. The roll call of representatives began and Harry Burn was #7. He voted to

table the Senate’s resolution. This is critical because if the motion to table succeeded,

there would be no vote on the Amendment. Any decision on the Amendment would

have been delayed to regular session in January 1921, after the presidential election.

The roll call continued with members in the gallery and probably on the legislative

floor checking off names of representatives on their tally sheets as they registered their

decision with the clerk. The clerk called Turner and he responded “Pass.” Suddenly,

everyone in the legislature was caught in the moment – a sense something historic was

about to happen. The remaining representatives’ names were called and the vote stood

48 for tabling, 47 against tabling. This was the “carpe diem” moment. People in the

gallery leaned forward, members on the floor gave their full attention to Turner – all

eyes and ears were on him. Before the clerk recorded the final tally, Turner uttered

these historic words – “I wish to be recorded as against the motion to table.” It took a

few moments to register and then pandemonium broke out as everyone realized that

Turner’s vote had created a tie. There was yelling and screaming and chaos on the

floor. There were demands for a recount. The Anti-suffragists were stunned. Turner had

kept hope alive for the Suffragists.

Once order was restored, the recount was conducted. Burn again voted in

support of tabling the resolution. Turner was under great pressure from his good friend,

Speaker Walker, to change his vote to support tabling. Walker had his arm on Turner’s

shoulder and pleaded with him. Neither ever mentioned what was said, what was

offered, or promised, if anything, but, finally, Turner stood up and threw Walker’s arm off

and voted “No.”

A frustrated and angry Walker then decided to force a vote on the original motion

to concur with the Senate resolution to ratify the Amendment. He called for a vote on the motion and this time just like with the two earlier votes, Burn voted seventh and this

time he voted “Aye.” This caught everyone’s attention because if the rest of the

representatives voted as they had against tabling, then there would be enough votes to

ratify the Amendment. However, there were eighty-nine votes to go.

The clerk continued the roll call. When Turner’s name was called, he passed.

What was going on? This became the second “carpe diem” moment. After all votes had

been recorded, Turner in a dramatic flourish rose and it is easy to imagine the silence in

the legislature with everyone leaning forward straining to hear what his decision was.

Within the span of a couple of hours he was about to make history twice – first by

keeping hope alive and now – “I wish to be recorded as Aye,” he said in a

conversational tone.

With that vote, he ratified the Nineteenth Amendment. Speaker Walker quickly

changed his “No” vote to “Yes” so he could bring the legislation back up for a vote within

three days in the hopes of changing a legislator’s mind – he failed and on August 26,

1920, Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby officially make it part of the U.S. Constitution.

As we celebrate this significant event in our history, it is important to remember

that there were twenty-five state Senators, Democrats and Republicans who voted for

suffrage. There were forty-nine representatives - Democrats and Republicans, including

Harry Burn, a Republican from McMinn County; Banks Turner, a Democrat from Gibson

County; and Independent Joe Hanover from Memphis who voted for the Amendment.

All of their votes were equally important and they all deserve our appreciation and

gratitude for their votes, but it was Banks Turner whose unexpected three votes carried

the day and put it over the top.





Aunt Ivie and me, c. 1985


https://constitutioncenter.org/blog/the-man-and-his-mom-who-gave-women-the-vote/


https://www.jacksonsun.com/story/opinion/columnists/2018/07/10/womens-suffrage/719820002/


https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/opinion/columns/story/2020/jun/19/casey-capitol-busts/525750/


https://www.tnmagazine.org/10-surprising-things-about-the-passage-of-the-suffrage-amendment/







  • Meg Kinnard

Updated: May 31, 2019

I felt like I had lived the entirety of the saga that began the night of June 17, 2015, when a lone stranger walked into a Wednesday night Bible study at Mother Emanuel AME Church. That night, the night that the shooter carved out his own space in infamy by shattering the lives of nine of God's faithful, I was just blocks away, spending the evening at my family's downtown Charleston home. As soon as word of the tragedy spread, I went to work on the story, work that didn't truly stop until he was sentenced to death a year and a half later.


In that time, I felt like I got to know the families of those who became known worldwide as the Charleston Nine, those whose lives had been snuffed out by a man filled with hate and loathing. Sitting through weeks of preliminary hearings and the trial that followed, I felt like I understood their stories, their grief, their yearning to know why their lives had been allowed to be altered by this tremendous loss. During the days on end of brutally raw and painful testimony from the men and women who had suffered the kind of loss that hopefully most of us will never know, I sat among other reporters, pecking away at our laptops in an attempt to chronicle the history playing out before us.


We all had pieces of the story. But only one of us, through untold hours of diligence, has truly gotten her arms around the full picture of Emanuel, of the realities of the families, their struggles and what the whole awful circumstance has meant not only for South Carolina but for the world. Her name is Jennifer Berry Hawes, and her book - Grace Will Lead Us Home- is, simply put, amazing.

Masterfully - and in a way that, if you've ever read any of her work, is beautifully familiar - Jen tells the story of Emanuel, of each person involved, from the victims and their loved ones to the shooter and his own disturbing and sad circumstances. Like no other writer has been able to do, she truly lived and breathed this story that is now part of history, portraying the difficult realities the massacre caused in the lives of each person directly affected by it and delving into how a sacred space that had been a home base for these nine people nearly fell apart in the aftermath of their deaths. Some are stories of growth after tragedy. Some are tales of sorrow and continued darkness. In any event, Jen has preserved the truth of Emanuel and what we can learn from it in a way that is incomparable.


If I'm being honest, I have to make a confession: Jen Berry Hawes is my favorite journalist. Period. She has been for some time, though this is the first time I have ever publicly said it or written it. I've admired her for many years and look up to her as a journalist, woman and human being. I've been reluctant to say it for fear of offending many of the other amazing writers in my field - especially in the South Carolina press corps - but she deserves to be singled out. She gets to write the big picture stuff and go into the details that are limited for a wire service writer like me. But rather than being jealous of her - and I certainly could be - I have always silently and privately cheered her on, and I've been so proud of everything she's accomplished in her career at The Post and Courier. Her stories rip at your heart and teach lessons that are lifelong.

Grace Will Lead Us Home is no exception. Though I lived through the same trial, in reading the book I learned, cried, smiled and couldn't put it down.


Simply, I want everyone to read it. For better or worse, I had a front seat to history in what happened at Emanuel, and my duties as a journalist and South Carolinian compelled me to share that story with the world. But what Jen has done with this book, which is widely available June 4, is above and beyond any reflection anyone else could produce. I'm honored to call Jen a colleague and friend, and I hope that you will learn from and appreciate her incredible work, as I have.


You can preorder her book at this link: https://amzn.to/2XeoXdD


And you should.


MKH





  • Meg Kinnard


A picture of me not writing a story about a poll.

It's already happened a few times this year. A campaign or a political party has hired a polling firm to conduct a poll, and found a way to spin the results into a favorable story for their candidate. Immediately, I'm getting calls from the communications staff, being bombarded with emails, and my Twitter feed is filled with tweets about how candidate X is either winning, gaining or within the margin of error. Now, let me ask you something: When was the last time that you saw a candidate make an announcement that said, "BIG NEWS: Recent poll shows we're definitely losing, just as we long suspected!" You've never seen one? Me either. And that's why I'm not going to write a story about your poll. Fortunately for me, The Associated Press agrees, and recently revised the AP Stylebook to give reporters a really good excuse to just say no when we get yelled at by campaign spokespeople because we're really just not into their polling data. According to the Stylebook's new entry: The mere existence of a poll is not enough to make it news. Do not feel obligated to report on a poll or survey simply because it meets AP’s standards.

Poll results that seek to preview the outcome of an election must never be the lead, headline or single subject of any story. Pre-election horse race polling can and should inform reporting on political campaigns, but no matter how good the poll or how wide a candidate’s margin, results of pre-election polls always reflect voter opinion before ballots are cast. Voter opinions can change before Election Day, and they often do.

I underlined the sentences above because in the past few days, I've been questioned by campaigns, and I've seen journalists criticized by spokespeople for not writing stories about the mere existence of polls, and because they didn't lead a story with the results of their candidate's poll. This might blow your mind, but there is literally a candidate running for office in South Carolina, who tweeted the following, last week: We recently got a poll back that says we are within 6 points of defeating (our opponent). People are excited to bring much-needed change to our communities and to Washington. Donate today to help narrow that 6-point gap even more. Now, when I saw the tweet, I giggled and moved on, but then something strange (yes, stranger than that tweet) happened. Some people started tweeting at me, telling me that I should be writing a story about the poll. Which poll? The one they "recently got back," of course. This gets better. When another reporter did reach out to them to ask them from where they received this polling information, they refused to reveal it. At this point, I should have just hit mute, but I engaged one of my followers and explained why this is not news. He's smart, and understood. But c'mon guys. Really? I'm just supposed to believe you "recently got a poll," like I recently found a $20 bill lying on the ground? Let's say that I wrote about your stork-delivered poll as though it came from a legit source and got all of my readers to jump on your propaganda bandwagon. And then your opponent sent a tweet that they ALSO "recently got back" a poll saying they were beating you by 50 points. Simply put, I don't have time to play those games. No reporter does.

Even if you are willing to reveal the source of your poll, it still probably isn't going to be news. And if it is, I'm going to add it as background information in a larger story - much like a reporter whom I greatly respect did recently. A campaign paid to have a poll conducted, made a PR pitch about the results, and then accused this reporter of "burying the lede" because they didn't lead their story with it. The campaign should be counting their lucky stars that a reporter of his ilk would have even bothered to add it to his story. And guess what? Later in the day, the spokesperson for the opposing campaign announced that they had a poll debunking the other poll. I literally laughed out loud, when I saw it.

So, look. I get how all of this works. You have to do what you have to do to keep momentum going and to gain positive press. But if you start criticizing reporters when we don't buy into the propaganda, then you're going to be in for a long, frustrating campaign. So, take it easy, tweet until your heart is content, and be happy if we include it in our stories. Even if it's in the last paragraph of a larger piece.

With that said, if an independent poll that meets AP standards comes out in your favor, I very-well may write about it. Or ... I might not. Because if 2016 taught us anything, it's that the old cliche, "the only poll that matters is on election day," is true.

-MKH