Chisholm announcing her candidacy in 1972; photo via the Library of Congress
Chipping away at the lack of women represented among New York City statues, the city announced on Friday it is commissioning a permanent statue of Shirley Chisholm to be built in Brooklyn. Chisholm, who lived in Bed-Stuy, became in 1968 the first black woman to serve in the House of Representatives. The statue, expected to be completed in 2020, will be placed outside of the Parkside entrance to Prospect Park.
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Shirley Chisholm was the first black woman elected to Congress back in 1968 and to honor her trailblazing life, #SheBuiltNYC is commissioning a statue of her to go up in Prospect Park. Now her historic legacy will never be forgotten! #shirleychisholm #newyorkcity #statue #monument #publicart #nyc #localgovernment #womennyc #activist
The city selected Chisholm after launching a program this summer that sought ideas of women or events in women’s history that deserve to be recognized. First Lady Chirlane McCray and Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen, along with the Department of Cultural Affairs, are overseeing the $10 million initiative, called She Built NYC.
“We set out to correct a glaring inequity in our public spaces,” McCray told the New York Times. According to Glen, the statue is expected to cost $1 million, which will most likely be designed by a woman. The city intends to select an artist in March.
In 1972, Chisholm became the first woman to seek the presidential nomination of a major political party, campaigning with the slogan “unbought and unbossed.” Another mantra of Chisholm’s repeated by feminist organizers today: “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.”
“I can’t think about her and what she accomplished before and after her run and not think ‘Oh, maybe I should do that too, you know’,” McCray said in an interview with the Times. “She really set an example, for all of us.”
Currently, 90 percent of statues in the city is dedicated to men. According to She Built NYC, commissioning the statue of Chisholm is just the first step in honoring more women. “We won’t stop until the record is corrected, and at least 50 percent of the monuments in our public realm honor the incredible contributions women have made to our city,” the program’s website reads.
Chisholm will also be the subject of a new series, “The Fighting Shirley Chisholm,” starring Viola Davis as the trailblazing public figure.
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