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Central Park unveils new statue honoring women’s rights pioneers

The monument of Elizabeth Stanton, Susan B. Anthony and Sojourner Truth would be the first statue of real women in Central Park. Photo Credit: Monumental Women

Central Park unveiled a statue of women’s rights pioneers Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony and Sojourner Truth on Wednesday morning, roughly a week after the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment which gave white women in the United States the right to vote. 

The amendment was fully certified by Congress on Aug. 26 and prohibited state from denying citizens the right to vote based on sex. But in 1920, Native American, Asian and Black women were not citizens meaning the right did not apply to them. 

The unveiling ceremony featured a bevy of speakers involved in the six-year-long push for the statue’s creation including members of the nonprofit funding the project, Monumental Women, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. Over 1,000 people donated to the project, according to organizers.  Former secretary of state and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, a long-time supporter of the statue, also spoke at the unveiling. 

The park has 23 statues honoring male historical figures and has a handful of statues depicting fictional women, including Alice in Wonderland, Mother Goose and Juliet from Romeo and Juliet making it’s newest statue the first monument depicting real women in the park’s 160-year history.

The statue’s unveiling comes as the country continues to grapple with a lack of diverse representation among public monuments. Previously, there were only five statues in New York City honoring real women and only 10% of outdoor sculptures in the country depict real women, according to the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Art Inventories Catalog

Sculptor Meredith Bergmann’s creation depicts Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Sojourner Truth working together at a table with Susan B. Anthony standing between them. Bergmann’s original design only featured the two white suffragettes with Anthony standing over Stanton as she wrote on a lengthy scroll that tumbled down to an old fashioned ballot box at their feet. 

After critics bashed the first design as whitewashing the fight for women’s suffrage Bergman redesigned the monument and added the famed abolitionist and women’s rights advocate Sojourner Truth.  

“Our charge now as we stand in the great river of history is to take the stories of the women in this statue and carry them into our schools, social media and into our lives,” said Clinton as she stood in front of the statue now stationed in the park’s Literary Walk. “There is nothing more important, however, to honor the women portrayed in this statue than to vote.” 

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and sculptor Meredith Bergmann attend the unveiling of a bronze statue featuring Sojourner Truth, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, following the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment in Central Park in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., August 26, 2020. The statue is the first to feature non-fictional women in Central Park’s history. (REUTERS/Carlo Allegri)

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