HATTIESBURG, Miss.—The first thing Jennifer Ingram Johnson wanted to do after she registered to vote in the early 1990s was visit Evelyn Gandy at her law office in Hattiesburg. When the young, newly registered voter arrived to share the news, Gandy, a former Mississippi lieutenant governor, called a coffee break.
"Everybody in the office celebrated that we have another voter—and another woman voter," Johnson, who is now the president-elect of the Mississippi Bar Association, told an audience in Gandy's hometown on Tuesday.
Johnson, who counts Gandy as a mentor, was the featured speaker at a League of Women Voters luncheon meant to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote. The League honored Gandy for her historic achievements.
"For her to be honored and remembered in celebration of the 19th Amendment is so fitting, and I am so honored to have the opportunity to share with you all about her on this very, very special occasion," Johnson said, urging those women gathered to use their right to vote.
Arrangements with purple, white and gold flowers—symbols early-20th-century suffragists used to symbolize, respectively, loyalty, purity and life—sat on each table in the room.
'A Giant in the History of Mississippi Politics'
Johnson described Gandy as a towering figure among Mississippi women, and whose career included many firsts. As the only woman in her law school class, she became the first woman elected as student body president at the University of Mississippi School of Law and then was the first woman to serve as editor of the Mississippi Law Review.
After Gandy finished school, Forrest County voters elected her as the first woman to serve in the State House of Representatives from her district in 1947. She went on to become the first woman in Mississippi elected to any statewide office, serving as