The first-ever statue in Central Park to depict real women was unveiled Wednesday on the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment’s ratification—and amid ongoing concerns that many public statues are not inclusive, even sometimes offensive—as the park now displays a Women’s Rights Pioneers Monument paying tribute to Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Sojourner Truth.
Nonprofit Monumental Women spearheaded a seven-year effort to install the new statue, which was sculpted by Meredith Bergmann and is displayed on Central Park’s Literary Walk.
There are 23 statues of real men in Central Park, but previously only fictional women—including Alice in Wonderland, Mother Goose and Juliet from Romeo and Juliet—were depicted in the park.
There were also previously only five public statues of real women throughout New York City at large, out of 150 statues of historical figures in total, and only 10% of outdoor statues throughout the U.S. depicting historical figures are of women, according to the Smithsonian.
Organizers said Wednesday they received donations from over 1,000 supporters to fund the statue, including from Girl Scouts who donated proceeds from their cookie sales.
The statue was unveiled at a ceremony Wednesday morning that included remarks from former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who told attendees, “There is nothing more important to honor the women in this statue than to vote.”
“A knowledge of women’s history helps us understand the context of the struggle for equality, as well as the continuum of the fight for social change,” Pam Elam, President of the Board at Monumental Women, said Wednesday at the statue’s unveiling. “We rethink the past to reshape the future.”
Statues throughout the U.S. have become a matter of scrutiny in recent years, as Confederate monuments, racially insensitive statues and those depicting figures with racist or problematic legacies have become sources of controversy and, in some cases, removed entirely. Advocates have also pushed for more statues of women and people of color. In addition to Monumental Women’s effort, New York City’s She Built NYC campaign has also identified female historical figures—including Rep. Shirley Chisholm and Billie Holiday—to erect statues in honor of in the city’s five boroughs.
Monumental Women has a broader mission to honor women’s legacies in New York City and throughout the country, including through subsequent statues, a nationwide education campaign and a planned women’s history walking tour of New York City. “What we all seek is nothing less than a full and fair historical record that reflects and respects the contributions of all women and people of color, and we won’t stop until we win that,” Elam said Wednesday.
Central Park is unveiling a statue of women’s rights pioneers. It’s the park’s first statue of real women (CNN)
I am a New York-based journalist covering breaking news at Forbes. I previously covered politics and news for Vanity Fair and Mic, and as a theater critic I serve as a
I am a New York-based journalist covering breaking news at Forbes. I previously covered politics and news for Vanity Fair and Mic, and as a theater critic I serve as a member of the New York Outer Critics Circle. Follow me on Twitter @alisond64 or get in touch at [email protected]
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