JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — It’s the thought that counts with gift-giving, and members of the Johnson City Downtown Merchant Association (JCDMA) brainstormed the perfect present that would leave former Johnson City Mayor Jenny Brock speechless.
Last November, city officials unveiled a mural that highlights events in Johnson City that helped lead to the ratification of the 19th Amendment.
The mural located at 393 Ashe St. showcases local women who took action and went against the status quo in an effort to gain equality and the right to vote.
JCDMA President Kimberly Blaine attended the unveiling and received a picture-perfect shot of the artwork at the event, later deciding what better gift to give to the former mayor than a framed mural on which city officials had collaborated for more than a year.
Brock told News Channel 11 Tuesday night’s gift serves as a reminder that the life women experience today didn’t always exist.
“These women — in their long dresses and hats — came together and made a statement in Johnson City and to the state and to the nation,” Brock said. “Tennessee was the state that made the final ratification of the 19th Amendment.”
The former mayor sent gratitude to the group of Johnson City merchants who banded together to give the mayor a piece of downtown she could keep.
Blaine, who is also the owner of Downtown Yoga Center, said Brock’s position in local office during the celebration of the women’s rights movement struck her as inspiring.
“I just thought it was so cool that during the time of the anniversary of women’s suffrage, we had a female mayor here in office in town,” Blaine said. “It really is a significant story as to this area being a very key factor in deciding that women got to vote.”
The JCDMA hosted its first member meeting after the selection of the new board last November. Blaine revealed the downtown organization has plenty of ideas on the books for 2021 — especially following the hit small businesses took throughout the pandemic amid closures.
The light at the end of the tunnel, however, nears.
“This group always did First Fridays, so we want to bring that back and call it Always First Fridays,” Blaine said. “Before, we would try to do it on the street with street closures and bands and things like that, but every month, that’s kind of hard to manage.
“We want to move Always First Fridays into everybody’s shops so that every first Friday when you’re downtown, people are doing some kind of special deal.”
In what originally included downtown businesses, the JCDMA has branched out to involve other companies throughout the city, aiming to reel in more ideas to bring success to the wide array of small business Johnson City has to offer.