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The yellow rose has been an important symbol in movements for women’s equality for centuries. In the women’s suffrage movement, the yellow rose became a symbol of support, and ultimately, a symbol of victory. In advance of the final state’s ratification vote in Tennessee in 1920, both suffragists and anti-suffragists wore roses on their dresses and encouraged legislators to wear roses on their lapels to identify their respective sides. Suffragists wore yellow roses, while anti-suffragists wore red roses. On the day of the vote for the 19th Amendment, August 18, 1920, the red roses barely outnumbered the yellow. The Speaker of the Tennessee House, who was against women voting, called the roll. One by one, each member voted in the way their rose color indicated they would until the roll rested on a 24-year-old freshman with a red rose on his suit. The morning of the vote, Harry Burn, who had intended to vote against women’s suffrage, received a letter from his mother urging him to “be a good boy” and vote for ratification. So despite his red rose, the young legislator voted yes…hastening the course of American history and ushering in a new era for women.
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