The Monumental Women’s Statue Fund announced a redesigned statue to honor pioneering women’s rights advocates – the first statue depicting real women in the 165-year history of New York City’s Central Park.
The redesign comes on the heals of criticism that the original design excluded the contributions of people of color.
The amended design, which still includes Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, but now adds Sojourner Truth, is expected to be released on Women’s Equality Day, August 26th.
“All three are remarkable and monumental women’s rights pioneers who were New Yorkers and contemporaries,” an announcement sent to the press said. “In the amended design, nationally-recognized sculptor Meredith Bergmann shows Anthony, Stanton, and Truth working together in Stanton’s home, where it is historically documented they met and spent time together.”
The New York City Parks Department had already approved both The Statue Fund’s proposal for a statue (with the two figures of Stanton and Anthony alongside the names of other suffragists), as well as the statue location requested by The Statue Fund — the Literary Walk on The Mall in Central Park.
The NYC Public Design Commission removed the scroll of names of additional suffragists in their first review. They must now review the amended design of the statue, which is expected to be unveiled on August 26, 2020, the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment, when women constitutionally won the right to vote. Next year is also the 200th anniversary of Susan B. Anthony’s birth.
“Our goal has always been to honor the diverse women in history who fought for equality and justice and who dedicated their lives to the fight for Women’s Rights. We want to tell their stories and help create a full and fair historical record of their vast and varied contributions,” Pam Elam, President of Monumental Women, said in the announcement sent to the press. “When the Public Design Commission unanimously approved our previous design with Anthony and Stanton, but required that a scroll with names and quotes of 22 diverse women’s suffrage leaders be removed, we knew we needed to go back to the drawing board and create a new design. It is fitting that Anthony, Stanton, and Truth stand together in this statue as they often did in life.”
Monumental Women’s Statue Fund was officially organized as a not-for-profit group in 2014 with the initial goal of creating the first statue of a real woman in Central Park with other statues planned throughout New York City.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony spent much of their 50-year relationship working and living in New York City. In 1863, they founded the Women’s Loyal National League there which was dedicated to the abolition of slavery. They collected hundreds of thousands of petition signatures urging President Abraham Lincoln and Congress to immediately end slavery through the 13th Amendment.
In 1866, Stanton was the first woman to run for Congress, in what was then the Eighth Congressional District in New York City. Stanton and Anthony published The Revolution, a weekly newspaper about women’s rights from 1868-70, founded the National Woman Suffrage Association in 1869, and organized and attended countless conventions, rallies and meetings dedicated to women’s rights and suffrage over the decades – all in New York City. Stanton and Anthony also appreciated Central Park. Anthony took long walks in the park and Stanton played with her children there.
Sojourner Truth, was born into slavery in Ulster County, New York in 1797 (a statue was unveiled there in 2013). She went on to become one of the most powerful advocates for human rights in the nation. An abolitionist, she escaped from slavery in 1827 and lived in and around New York City from 1828 to 1843. Sojourner Truth joined the fight for women’s rights as well. At the 1851 Women’s Rights Convention held in Akron, Ohio, Truth delivered what is now recognized as one of the most famous abolitionist and women’s rights speeches in American history, “Ain’t I a Woman?”.
Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton often attended the same meetings and conventions and spoke on the same stages. Historical records show that Stanton and Anthony sent letters, messages, and invitations to Sojourner Truth and that they often supported one another in their work.
“The three figures each represent an essential aspect of activism. Sojourner Truth is speaking, Susan B. Anthony is bringing documentation of injustice, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton is poised to write. Girls and boys who encounter this monument will see a positive image of diverse women working together to change the world,” said Meredith Bergmann. Bergmann’s works also include the Boston’s Women’s Memorial, the September 11th Memorial at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City, and more.