Rendering of “Women’s Rights Pioneer Monument” (courtesy of Monumental Women).
Last year’s unveiling of designs for the first statue in Central Park’s 165-year history that depicts real historic women–a sculpture of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, set to be dedicated in August of 2020 to mark the 100th anniversary of nationwide women’s suffrage–was met with the criticism that it didn’t adequately represent the many African-American women who aided in the cause. As 6sqft previously reported, a redesigned statue honoring women’s rights advocates will now include Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and escaped slave and abolitionist Sojourner Truth, who aided in the fight for women’s rights. The updated design has been revealed. But, as AM New York reports, The city’s Public Design Commission has said the statue still falls short, and has postponed the vote to confirm the new design–possibly jeopardizing an August 26, 2020 unveiling.
In the current proposed design as described by artist Meredith Bergmann, Truth is sitting Stanton at a table in the latter’s home, while Anthony, behind them, carries a “documentation of injustices” in her traveling bag. The updated design brought criticism from scholars, including Harlem Historical Society director Jacob Morris, who say a statue showing the three activists working together “could obscure the substantial differences between white and black suffrage activists, and would be misleading.”
Morris didn’t object to the design of the statue itself, but argued that a plaque below the statue should provide “sufficient historical context” regarding the “different objectives” of the two races in the fight for women’s suffrage.
Monumental Women, the nonprofit organization behind the statue, has already gotten the green light for the statue itself, but needs a majority vote from the design commission to proceed with creating and installing it. At a public hearing on Monday, the commission voted unanimously to table its vote, though president Signe Nielsen said the intent was “to move forward as quickly as possible.”
Monumental Women’s president Pam Elam said she wasn’t surprised by the commission’s decision: “To be totally honest, we expected them to do this. It’s just another delay,” adding that “we will not stop until that beautiful statue stands on the mall in Central Park, and all of the millions of people who see it will just honor those women, and hopefully feel energized to complete the journey that they started for full equality for women.”
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