Mapping A Movement: Ashleigh, Edwith, and a Whole Bunch of Tennessee Students Want to Defeat Amendment 1

By Ashleigh Moses
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Mapping A Movement is a series of Feminist Campus Trip Diaries. Our organizers travel the nation to help feminist student leaders on college campuses – these are the tales of their adventures. mapping-a-movement-620x4591 Ashleigh and Edwith just returned from a mini-road trip across Tennessee to raise awareness on Tennessee’s Amendment 1, an anti-choice ballot measure up for a vote this fall. In addition to eating their weight in fried food, they were able to visit some of the amazing students at Tennessee State University, East Tennessee State University, Middle Tennessee State University, Vanderbilt University, University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, University of Tennessee-Knoxville, and Austin Peay University! Above is a map of their trip! 

Tuesday, September 16: Two Bags of Raisinettes

Ashleigh:  After finishing my second family-size bag of Raisinettes, and recovering from the shockingly already freezing weather in Detroit, I was able to make it to Tennessee at around 11 at night.

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Ashleigh’s ready to board with luggage full of swag for students ready to #GOHV in #Tennessee! ✈️

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Edwith: I had made it to Tennessee earlier that day from the much sunnier California picked up Ashleigh at her terminal. I instantly knew how her flight went when I admitted that the chocolate stains on her jeans were not as subtle as she would have liked and she merely shrugged and inaudibly moaned about sleep. Ashleigh: Traveling brings out the true gem in me.

Wednesday, September 17: Overbooked, Under-Pizza’d

Edwith: We didn’t realize that we had overbooked our first day in TN until it was way too late. Ashleigh: Either we scheduled too much, or the bed that we were sleeping in was way too comfortable. However, after doing three presentations, I choose to believe the former. Edwith: After finally getting ahold of some Starbucks, we were totally ready. We started off the day at the Vanderbilt campus, where we were able to talk to the students in Dr. Spetalnick’s MASSIVE sociology class about their perceptions of feminists and the importance of having their voices heard at the ballot box in Tennessee this November. Once we finished that initial class discussion, we were on fire (literally, it was so hot outside) and ready to take Tennessee by storm! Ashleigh: Our next stop was meeting with Dr. Dicker in the Women’s and Gender Studies department. We were talking about the Vote No campaign and the importance of students turning out at the polls when she casually mentioned that the title of the class Edwith and I would be speaking at was “Women’s Rights, Women’s Wrongs.” We were immediately intrigued with the idea of the class and did basically everything short of begging her to let us not only present to her students but to allow us to sit in on her class. She graciously agreed to let us participate in the class discussion and told us to brush up on Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I A Woman?” speech. Edwith and I both felt like we were back in school and LOVED IT. Edwith: Our next stop was going over to the MTSU campus to meet with our future amazing campus organizers and attending their school’s S.A.F.E. meeting. We had ordered pizza for everyone at the meeting and it just so happened that the pizza delivery man was walking up to the meeting room right as we were. You would think Ashleigh and I had not eaten for days based on what we did to that poor pizza. Ashleigh: I regret nothing. But, after inhaling pizza we were able to have the best conversation with the S.A.F.E. group members.  The students at the meeting were so on top of their “Vote No On 1” game and were pumped to get out the word on Tennessee’s awful Amendment 1.

Thursday, Sept. 18: Sojourner Truth Will Never Stop Being Relevant

Ashleigh: Our Thursday began at Tennessee State University with professors in the Women’s Studies department and staff in the office of student affairs. We got to speak with Dr. Dixon about putting on a reproductive justice forum for the students at TSU, get her recommendations for TSU’s campus organizers, and how weird it is to see your name on a business card for the first time. Edwith: The faculty and staff at TSU were incredibly supportive of the work we were doing and couldn’t have been more accommodating. It ‘s always great to be in a space where other individuals value the work that you’re doing and can reinforce the importance of all the work being done to get Tennessee to Vote No on 1! Ashleigh: Once we rounded out the remainder of our meetings at TSU we made our way back to the Vanderbilt campus to speak with Dr. Dicker’s class about why they should reject Amendment 1 at the voting booth in November and how they can get active to spread the word. Edwith: After finishing our presentation and making sure that every student in the class had pledged to “Vote No on 1,” we were able to sit in on the class’ dissection of Sojourner Truth’s groundbreaking speech “Aint I A Woman?” After Ashleigh and I left, we couldn’t believe how prevalent Truth’s words still are today. All these years later, women are still fighting the systems of oppression that gave birth to the women’s movement so long ago. Ashleigh: When Dr. Dicker dismissed class Edwith and I had to make a mad dash to Planned Parenthood’s office for “Vote No on 1” all the way across town. Edwith: We finally found time to sit down and get some work done and then called it a night at an embarrassingly early hour.

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Working away to #GOHV in Tennessee! #VoteNoTN   View on Instagram

Friday, Sept. 19: Salsa, Chips, And Social Change

Ashleigh: Edwith and I overcame a massive struggle to make it to Dr. Spetalnick’s  8 a.m. sociology class where we had scheduled a quick chat with students. We had a dialogue with her class about what it means to be a feminist, why we are doing this work in Tennessee, and what the passage of Amendment 1 in Tennessee could mean for them. Edwith: It was great to see students taking an active interest in the inferences behind the language in Amendment 1. Students spent the better part of our time in the class interrogating the political shifts within the Tennessee legislature that brought about the construction of the Amendment and comparing it to what they knew about similar legislation also up for the vote in November. Ashleigh: That interrogation of the legislation from so many different viewpoints was something that Edwith and I noticed throughout the different regions of Tennessee. Listening to people with divergent value systems planning to Vote No on Amendment 1 was an awesome insight into the way that such a broad and sweeping piece of legislation can have massive consequences for individuals across the board. Edwith: We then met with Leah from Belmont University. Leah is in the process of launching an FMLA at her school. We met at the cutest coffee shop called Bongo Java where I had the most delicious mocha latte drink. It was the perfect scene to delve into creating a feminist presence in a conservative climate. Ashleigh: Taylor, our Feminist Campus communications guru, had a laundry list of places we HAD to go to while in Tennessee. So for dinner, Edwith and I ventured to one of the places, Chuy’s, and had amazing chips and salsa.

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This is what a feminist looks like. This is what a feminist eats like. #GOHV #VoteNo1TN   View on Instagram

Saturday, Sept. 20: More Pizza

Edwith: Today we went to visit  FMLA at Austin Peay University. We had even more pizza and got to learn about their plans for this fall semester and how they were bringing Vote No on Amendment 1 on their campus.  Its always great to connect with some great feminist leaders plus with pizza…good times…good times indeed.

Monday, Sept. 22: Sleeping Where Gloria Steinem Once Slept

Ashleigh: Edwith and I got to join the FMLA at ETSU for their awesome Voter Registration tabling event. We tabled to get students to register to vote, gave speeches on the importance of voting no on 1, and wished FMLA President, Max Smith, a happy birthday!

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Happy Birthday ETSU FMLA President, Max! #VoteNo1TN View on Instagram

  Edwith: We  were able to show ETSU support for their Youth ShowOUT event. FMLA at ETSU has been working long and hard to defeat Amendment 1 so it was great to have some fun well educating students about the importance of voting and Amendment 1.  Kudos to Kathryn for making a delicious homemade birthday cheesecake with sprinkles for Max! Later that day we drove to Knoxville and got to stay with Wanda, a long time FMF supporter and organizing icon. Did I mention we got to follow in the footsteps of some of the most profound activists of our time?

Tuesday, Sept. 23: A ‘Monumental’ Day In Knoxville

Edwith: After meeting with some amazing students and professors at the University of Tennessee  at Knoxville, Wanda took Ashleigh and I on a tour of Knoxville where we got to see some of the amazing monuments depicting scenes of the women’s right to vote protests.

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Ashleigh and Edwith got to have lunch with organizing idol Wanda Sobieski #GOHV #VoteNo1TN #NationalVoterRegistrationDay   View on Instagram

Wednesday, Sept. 24: Law Schooled

Ashleigh: Wednesday afternoon we attended a forum at the Vanderbilt School of Law hosted by the school’s Law Students for Reproductive Justice group. Edwith and I were blown away by the enlightening presentation given by Dr. Ellen Clayton, M.D., J.D., on the legal and medical inferences made by Amendment 1 why we must rally everyone in Tennessee to vote no in November.

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Dr. Ellen Clayton MD, JD speaking on the importance of Voting No on Amendment 1. #VoteNo1TN View on Instagram

Thursday, Sept. 25: Fried Chicken Search

Edwith: Exploring Chattanooga was definitely one of the highlights of this trip. When Ashleigh decided that we were going to hunt down the best fried chicken, we stumbled upon an awesome painting of a sit-in at Champy’s.

Friday, Sept. 25: UT-Chattanooga, Where Are You?

Ashleigh: Due to our outstanding skills in navigation, Edwith and I spent what seemed like hours looking for the campus in Chattanooga. When we finally found it, we got to spend the day meeting with students from all different parts of the UTC campus. It was so awesome to hear that students at their campus were already actively working with the Vote No on 1 campaign in their area. Vote No on 1 Coalition partners  let us know about an event that was going to take place at the Hamilton County Commission in protest of the Amendment and our  campus organizers jumped at the chance to attend

Saturday, Sept. 26: Teaming Up

Edwith: Ashleigh and I got to team up with Vote No on 1’s Elise in crafting messaging training we presented at a Vanderbilt Femmes meeting. We were also able to not only get into messaging but also brainstormed some actions to help enforce a Vote No on 1 presence on campus. Pizza was also present at the event, which seemed to be a theme throughout our time in Tennessee.

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Feminist Campus got to hang out with the awesome team at Vote No on Amendment 1 #VoteNoTN1 #GOHV @voteno1tn   View on Instagram

Monday, Sept. 29: Just Roll With It

Ashleigh: Edwith and I had a layover in Atlanta on our way back, which ultimately was RIDICULOUSLY late and caused us to miss our connecting flight to DC. No problem. Us being the determined feminists we are, we sprinted across the airport, pleaded with half of the flight staff, and sprinted some more to get on a stand by flight back to DC later that night.


Learn more about the ballot measures coming up in the 2014 elections here.

By Ashleigh Moses

Ashleigh is a graduate of the University of Alabama where she obtained a Bachelor’s in Political Science and a Master’s in Gender and Race Studies. While at Alabama she was active in campus-wide efforts to desegregate Alabama’s Greek system, was a founding member of the University of Alabama’s African Diasporic Studies Association, volunteered with her local Crossroads Community Center to promote open and diverse dialogue, and was present at every Crimson Tide home game. After completing her Master’s and moving to Washington, D.C. all in the same week, Ashleigh has found her home at the Feminist Majority Foundation working with women on college campuses throughout the south.

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