1. LaVerne Tolley Gurley (1918-2015), UTHSC campus, Madison & Manassas. Challenged to earn a living after her husband became seriously ill, Gurley enrolled in 1951 at the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center in the Roentgen Ray Technology Program, now known as Radiologic Technology. That certification launched a 45-year distinguished teaching and research career in nuclear medicine resulting in greatly improved health care for women: development of the much safer “low-dose mammogram” and more accurate interpretation of breast cancer screening results.
2. Marion Scudder Griffin (1879-1957), 165 Madison. Although qualified, Griffin was refused a Tennessee law license for 7 years solely because she was a woman. In 1907 she became the first woman attorney in Tennessee after she lobbied the legislature to admit women to the practice of law. In 1923 she became the first woman elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives. Before she retired in 1949, her law office was in the Goodwyn Institute Building.
3. The Lee Sisters South Main & Gayoso. Members of the Lee Family “have been arrested 17 times for civil rights activities and claim the title of the ‘Most Arrested Family’ in the country,” Jet magazine reported in 1965. Later Joan Lee-Nelson (1946-2016) and Elaine Lee- Turner founded the first African American-owned tour company in Tennessee, Heritage Tours, to discover, chronicle and share history of Mid-South African Americans.
4. Equality Trailblazers Memphis Park, west of Cecil Humphreys Law School. In 1920 Tennessee became the 36th and final state needed to ratify the 19th Amendment. Leadership by local women seeking full citizenship rights began as early as the 1870s. This monument honors local suffragists and other civil rights and women’s rights activists including Ida B. Wells, Mary Church Terrell, Lide Smith Meriwether, Marion Griffin, Maxine Smith, Lois DeBerry and Charl Ormand Williams (1885-1969) Shelby County school superintendent, suffragist, chaired Tennessee Women’s Steering Committee for suffrage, first female vice-chair Democratic National Committee, fought for equal pay for equal work, against gender discrimination.
Rep. Joe Hanover (1885-1984) House floor leader who kept pro-suffrage votes together, ally of Carrie Chapman Catt, attorney, humanitarian
Lulu Colyar Reese (1860-1926) Suffragist, one of first two women elected to Memphis school board, president of the Nineteenth Century Club
Alma H. Law (1875-1947) First woman on Shelby County Quarterly Court, served until her death
Frances Grant Loring (1923-2009) Women’s rights and civil rights activist
Dorothy “Happy” Snowden Jones (1937-2017) A founder of Panel of American Women, philanthropist for women’s causes
Minerva Johnican (1939-2013) First African American woman on Shelby County Commission and City Council; ran for city mayor in 1987
5. Annie Cook (1840-1878) Gayoso & Nov. 2nd St. “The Mansion” was one of many brothels that lined Gayoso Avenue when prostitution was legal in the late 1800s. It was home to Madam Cook, who turned her house into a hospital and died treating victims of the Yellow Fever epidemic that swept the city in 1878. Remembered among Yellow Fever Heroines and Martyrs.
6. The Upstanders Mural 115 Huling. Created in 2016 facing the National Civil Rights Museum, honors Memphians who stand up for the rights of others. See engage.facinghistory.org/mural/ Women honored are Ida B. Wells, Charl Ormand Williams, Maxine Smith and
Lucy Tibbs (1823-??) Freedwoman & mother, survivor of the Memphis Massacre in 1866
Yellow Fever Heroines and Martyrs who nursed victims during the 1878 epidemic
Nina Katz (1926-2014) Holocaust survivor, human rights activist.