Suffrage Parade in Lexington, Biggest Ever in Kentucky

Randolph Hollingsworth's picture

The celebration of 1916 National Suffrage Day was planned far in advance by the Fayette County Equal Rights Association and included a parade on the morning of May 6, 1916, in Lexington, Kentucky. The nearly 1000 marchers of men, women and children (see the next day's newspaper article detailing the parade here) had started at Gratz Park, marched from Third Street to Broadway, south on Broadway to Main Street to the Union Station and then west again on Main Street to Cheapside for an open-air suffrage meeting. There, the crowds heard a speech by suffrage orator Walter J. Millard. In preparation for the big parade, Judge Charles Kerr had agreed to adjourn the Circuit Court at the request of the Commonwealth's Attorney John R. Allen to accommodate the crowds for the parade - and to let him and Colonel Allen participate in the parade. In addition to summarizing all the parts of the parade being planned, a newspaper article on May 1st described the "transparencies" that were being planned - the following mottos were to be projected and then painted on canvases for one of the floats:

  • "New Zealand has the lowest baby death-rate in the world. In New Zealand mothers have voted for twenty years."
  • "Kansas has the best health record for 1915 of any state in the Union. In Kansas mothers vote."
  • "In Kentucky horses and cattle are registered. Our baby registration is still so poor that we can not estimate our baby death-rate. In Kentucky the breeders of cattle and horses vote. Mothers cannot vote."

By Friday, May 5th, the order of the parade was announced in the newspaper and the Captains of each of the Divisions for the parade were named. James H. Combs, Vice-President of the Combs Lumber Company announced that he would allow time off for all the mill hands of the company who desired to walk with the marchers in the parade. The article also included a description of the program during the open-air meeting at Cheapside:

"... there will be music and choral singing on Cheapside under the leadership of Mrs. Norah B. Taylor. The suffrage song, which will be sung to the tune of 'Tipperary' will be:

It's been a long way to Woman's Suffrage,
It's been a long way to go.
It's been a long way to Woman's Suffrage,
But just see how we grow.
So it's good bye voteless woman,
Farewell to Antis, dear.
It's been a long, long way to Woman's Suffrage,
But it is almost here."


*** Resources ***

"Final Plans for Suffrage Parade Saturday Finished," The Lexington Herald (May 5, 1916), page 1 and 3.

"Progress of the Suffrage Parade," The Lexington Herald (May 1, 1916), page 16.

"Suffrage Parade Is Biggest Ever Held in Kentucky," The Lexington Herald (May 7, 1916), page 1 and 3. [see transcription of article here]

NOTE: This post is a part of the Kentucky Woman Suffrage Project Timeline - see the full timeline online at: