New York City is commissioning four more statues of trailblazing women as part of a campaign to address the inequity of the city’s public spaces. First lady Chirlane McCray and Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen announced on Wednesday plans to honor Billie Holiday, Elizabeth Jennings Graham, Dr. Helen Rodríguez Trías, and Katherine Walker with monuments. In November, the city announced it would commission a statue of Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to Congress, to be built outside of the entrance to Prospect Park.
Greenwich Village is well known as the home to libertines in the 1920s and feminists in the 1960s and ’70s. But going back to at least the 19th century, the neighborhoods now known as Greenwich Village, the East Village, and Noho were home to pioneering women who defied convention and changed the course of history, from the first female candidate for President, to America’s first woman doctor, to the “mother of birth control.” This Women’s History Month, here are just a few of those trailblazing women, and the sites associated with them.
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The corner of Pearl and Chatham streets, where Jennings hailed the bus. Photo via New York Historical Society
In 1854, 99 years before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to white passengers in Alabama, another brave African American woman affected change on local transit with her bravery. Elizabeth Jennings is not a household name, or even well-known, but her brave refusal to cow to 20th-century America’s racist customs and fight for her rights is historic, and the results of her actions have rippled down over the decades.
The whole history