Historical marker dedicated to Black women suffragists of Huntsville unveiled

The marker is the first of its kind in Alabama.

Posted: Oct 24, 2021 7:17 PM
Updated: Oct 25, 2021 5:46 PM

A historical marker was unveiled Sunday to honor six Black women who started the women's suffrage movement in Huntsville. It's the first historical marker dedicated to Black women in the state.

"Black women actively participated in the making of our state and nation," said Donna Castellano of the Historic Huntsville Foundation. "When their history becomes known and is integrated into our historical narrative, then the full tapestry that is Alabama history can become visible."

Dozens of people came out for this momentous occasion, including Mayor Tommy Battle and Gov. Kay Ivey. Also among the crowd were the grandchildren of the six women being honored.

Descendants of some of Huntsville's first Black women voters sat among the crowd to see the historic marker be revealed at William Hooper Councill Memorial Park. Etched on the marker are the names of Mary Binford, Ellen Brandon, India Hernson, Lou Johnson, Dora Lowery and Celia Love.

These were not only pioneers, but also educators, philanthropists, community advocates and above all, family members.

"You've heard about ... Mary Wood Binford. But to us, she was just Grandma," said Joan Carter, Binford's granddaughter.

Even though it's been more than 100 years since the movement finally made an impact — and more than 50 since Alabama formally recognized it — the women's granddaughters say the time is now to keep the momentum up.

"We want to stand on the shoulders of those six bold, beautiful, Black women and do what we need to do to get to the polls every time we're supposed to," said Yvonne Lowery-Kennedy, granddaughter of Dora Lowery.

If all goes to the Historical Huntsville Foundation's plan, this won't be the last historical marker you see dedicated to the Black women who were movers and shakers in the Rocket City. The Foundation is working to get several more up next year.

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