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Speaking of statues, these are the ones we need to revere, the change-makers who improve our lives. For the first time in its over 160-year history, New York City’s famous Central Park has a statue commemorating real-life women. As I watched it being erected, I prayed it wouldn’t be disturbed but instead celebrated.
A statue featuring women’s rights pioneers Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, all New Yorkers, will be unveiled on Aug. 26 in the same month that the United States celebrates the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote.
Sojourner Truth, no longer at the end of the Marchers, but sitting at the table!
When I walked Central Park a few years ago, the one statue that did delight me was that of Alice in Wonderland and the Mad Hatter Tea Party, fictional characters. I have featured many women statues from all over the planet, all over our own nation. What these three women did, was to bring the vote to women, who up until then, were not much more than indentured to their husband’s whims. If you read my blogs then you’ve been keeping up on the last couple of months postings, all celebrating the 19th amendment. Wonderful stories being shared as a reminder of the fights we fought, the conflicts still at the forefront. The timing of this brings us to the importance of being registered. The 2020 election is the most critical one of our times, when leadership is at the whims of the politicians. Vote your conscience with Facts not fiction. That means you may have to dig deeper for truths.
The organization, Monumental Women, began its fight to “crack the bronze ceiling” in Central Park nearly seven years ago when leaders decided to change the fact that women were only represented through statues of fictional female characters like Alice in Wonderland, while real-life men are immortalized in nearly two dozen statues in the park. Monumental Women had to fight through paperwork, layers of bureaucracy and doubts that a statue representing real women was needed in the park, including comments like, “Are you sure you want a statue? How about a nice garden?,” according to Elam. “The sad thing is that so many people for so many years never even noticed that real women were missing in Central Park, and what does that say about the invisibility of women and the lack of recognition that women face in this country and this world for the hard work that they have done and will always do. “If the city is not going to do what it should in terms of representing all of the people in its public spaces, then our small, all-volunteer, nonprofit group will step up and do that, said Pam Elam, president of Monumental Women.
The group also had to raise more than $1 million in private funding to make the statue a reality. They were helped in the effort by Girl Scout troops that donated more than $10,000 in cookie sales, and by New York Life, which donated a $500,000 challenge grant because of its connection to Susan B. Anthony. The women’s rights advocate used the cash value of her New York Life insurance policy in 1900 to guarantee admission for the first female students into the University of Rochester, according to New York Life.
Anthony, Truth and Stanton were chosen for the statue because they were “All women who dedicated their lives to fighting for equality and justice and they often shared the same stages and attended the same meetings, so it’s only fair that they share the same pedestal,” according to Elam.
About the Women’s Suffrage Movement
Both Stanton and Anthony strongly opposed the ratification of the 15th Amendment, which granted Black men the right to vote. Stanton made it clear in her fight for voting rights that when she said women, she meant white. Black suffragists were often told to march at the back of a protest.
Yet Sojourner Truth, who was formerly enslaved, carried her fight against slavery into the suffrage movement with her famous “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech and worked with Anthony and Stanton despite severe differences in opinion over Black Americans’ right to vote.
Black women like Sojourner Truth were part of the Women’s Suffrage movement although they would not benefit from the 19th Amendment in the South, where the same Jim Crow restrictions that kept Black men away from the polls also prevented Black women from voting.
It took until the 1965 Civil Rights movement and passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, not the 19th Amendment, that finally guaranteed their right to vote, a struggle that continues to this day.
The Women’s Suffrage Movement began in Upstate New York, in Rochester, Seneca and Seneca Falls, where the Anthony, Stanton and Sojourner lived and organized.
Sculptor Meredith Bergmann, Boston Women’s Memorial, BWM
There is nothing more important, however, to honor the women portrayed in this statue, than to vote. That is the best way to lead America forward, as the suffragists used to say, ‘Forward through the darkness, forward into light.”
Fearless Girl of Wall Street