Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Suzanne Bynum, 1888-1976
By Kayla Pierle, student, Wake Forest University
Suzanne Bynum was born on July 13, 1888, to William and Mary Louisa Bynum in Charlotte, North Carolina. An active member of the North Carolina suffrage movement, Suzanne. Bynum was present at many of the pivotal moments in the state's move towards women's suffrage. Progressive ideas often were slow to take hold in the South and women's suffrage was no different. While she had been interested in suffrage early on, her stay in New York for a short time influenced her tactics to bring women's suffrage to the South. The first Equal Suffrage Association in North Carolina started in Morgantown on July 10, 1913, and soon after Bynum aided in the formation of Equal Suffrage Associations in Charlotte and Greenville with the help of Anna Forbes Liddell.
By November 1913, 200 activists had joined the North Carolina Equal Suffrage League (NCESL). At that point the National American Woman Suffrage Association gave the NCESL its charter as an auxiliary of the national organization. The NCESL elected Bynum the head of publicity: she worked as the corresponding secretary of the organization, while her sister, Barbara Bynum Henderson, led the organization as its president.
In November of 1914, Suzanne served as one of North Carolina's delegates in the 46th Convention for the National American Woman Suffrage Association in Nashville, Tennessee. The convention noted Bynum and her counterparts as pioneers for their efforts to gain support in the South, where male politicians had publicly denied that southern women wanted the right to vote. By December of 1914 Equal Suffrage Leagues had formed in Charlotte, Morgantown, Asheville, Greenville, Salisbury, Washington, Henderson, Goldsboro, Chapel Hill, High Point, Reidsville, Kinston, Raleigh and Newbern-a significant change from no chapters before July 1913.
By the Second Annual Convention of the Equal Suffrage Association of North Carolina in October of 1915, Bynum clearly remained important to the suffrage movement as she was nominated for the position of Second Vice-President of the organization; however, she declined because she would be out of the state. In the year leading up to the convention Bynum served as Chair of the Press Committee. During her tenure she helped to promote the NCESL through weekly newspaper editorials in the Charlotte Observer from November 11 to March 20, which contained "Suffrage propaganda" as she put it. The wide distribution of the newspaper throughout the state helped increase interest in the suffrage movement across North Carolina. Under Bynum's leadership, the Press Committee gained a fair amount of support and traction for suffrage in little over a year. In the years following, North Carolina activists effectively changed public opinion from largely against to largely in support of women's suffrage through the use of media. Suzanne Bynum died on January 17, 1976, in Charlotte, North Carolina at the age of 87. She clearly made a positive impact on the lives of an untold number of women in North Carolina and throughout the United States during her lifetime.
Equal Suffrage Association of North Carolina, 1915. Proceedings of the Second Annual Convention of the Equal Suffrage Association of North Carolina Held at Battery Park Hotel Asheville, N. C. October, 29th, 1915. Henderson, N.C.: Jones-Stone Printing Co.; Elna C. Green, Southern Strategies: Southern Women and the Woman Suffrage Question (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1997); National American Woman Suffrage Association, Handbook of the National American Woman Suffrage Association and Proceedings of the ... Annual Convention; "North Carolina Forms League," 1913. The Woman's Journal 44 (November 1913): 371. http://www.heinonline.org/HOL/Page?men_tab=srchresults&handle=hein.journals/wmjrnl44&id=375&size=2&collection=journals&terms=Bynum&termtype=phrase&set_as_cursor=2; "North Carolina Deaths, 1931-1994," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FGPK-2C4 : 28 June 2015), William Preston Bynum in entry for Suzanne Bynum, 17 Jan 1976; citing Charlotte, Mecklenburg, North Carolina, v 2A cn 2410, State Department of Archives and History, Raleigh; FHL microfilm 1,984,136; Donald G. Mathews and Jane Sherron De Hart, Sex, Gender, and the Politics of ERA: A State and the Nation (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992); National American Woman Suffrage Association, The Handbook of the National American Woman Suffrage Association and Proceedings of the Forty-Sixth Annual Convention (New York City: N.W.S Publishing Co. Inc., 1914); William S. Powell Dictionary of North Carolina Biography (Chapel Hill: University North Carolina Press, 1979); Anastasia Sims, The Power of Femininity in the New South: Women's Organizations and Politics in North Carolina, 1880-1930 (Columbia, S.C: University of South Carolina Press, 1997); "Suffrage Work in the States: A Compilation of Recent Events in the Movement for Women's Enfranchisement Throughout the Union," The Woman's Journal and Suffrage News 45 (December 1914).