Bella statue plan deferred

By Albert Amateau

The movement to erect a monument to Bella Abzug in Washington Sq. Park is being deferred in favor of a living memorial to the feisty former congresswoman who died five years ago after a lifetime of devotion to progressive causes.

Liz Abzug, Bella’s daughter and a liberal activist in her own right, said that many of her mother’s friends and even rivals like former Mayor Ed Koch supported raising funds for a bronze statue of Bella in the middle of the Village which she represented in Congress 30 years ago.

“But others felt that it would be better to carry her tradition with a living legacy,” Abzug said, “So I’m putting together a 501C3 [tax-exempt, nonprofit organization] and a board of directors for a leadership institute to train young people, especially young women, in the Bella tradition.”

“We want to develop a cadre of radical progressive young people who could be the leaders of the future,” she said.

Abzug said it was too early to announce the board of directors of the new group, but she noted that she received encouragement from City Councilmembers Christine Quinn and Alan Gerson. “They think it’s a terrific idea,” Abzug said.

Bella, born in 1920 the year women were guaranteed the right to vote and renowned for her strong opinions and big hats, was a pioneer in the women’s rights movement and was honored in 1994 by the Veteran Feminists of America. She defended victims of Red hunts in the 1950s and was an organizer in 1961 of Women’s Strike for Peace, a national protest against nuclear arms. She was elected to the House of Representatives in 1970 where she served until 1976.

For many years, Abzug lived in the West Village. Late in her life, she lived at Two Fifth Ave. just north of Washington Sq. Park.