The original design. Photo by Tia Richards for 6sqft
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–was met with mixed reviews: Why didn’t the statue, set to be dedicated in August of 2020, marking the 100th anniversary of nationwide women’s suffrage, include any of the many African-American women who aided in the cause? Today it was announced that a redesigned statue honoring pioneering women’s rights advocates will include Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Sojourner Truth, an escaped slave and abolitionist who joined the fight for women’s rights.
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Photo by Tia Richards for 6sqft
The official design of the first statue of non-fictional women in Central Park was unveiled last summer. The statue, a sculpture of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, is set to be dedicated on August 18, 2020, marking the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote nationwide. Terrific, right? Not completely. Because, as the New York Times informs us, some women’s rights advocates feel the statue doesn’t show the whole story. One complaint: Stanton and Anthony were white. Included in the statue’s design, a list of women who aided in the cause contains a significant number of African-American women. Why weren’t any of them chosen to be the face of women’s contributions to social equality?
Gloria Steinem weighs in, this way
New York City women’s march, October 23 ,1915. Photo: Library of Congress.
Just as the rain shouldn’t be an excuse not to vote today, it’s hard to imagine that being female would be a reason to skip the polls, though we know that until a hundred years ago today, it was. Exactly a century ago, Catherine Ann Smith was among the first women to vote in the state of New York, as the New York Times reminds us. Ms. Smith joined Mary Waver at the front of the line, both cast their ballots in the early hours of November 5th, 1918.
Members of the Men’s League for Women’s Suffrage March in a 1915 Suffrage Parade, via the Carrie Chapman Catt Papers at Bryn Mawr College
James Lees Laidlaw, the president of the National Chapter of the Men’s League for Women’s Suffrage, wrote in 1912, “The great educational work in the woman’s movement has been done by women, through a vast expenditure of energy and against great odds. There is still work to be done and hard work. We men can make it easier and happier work if we join in it, and no longer stand aside, as too many men have done, leaving the women to toil and struggle, making up in vital energy what they lack in political power.”
Thanks to an ongoing great expenditure of energy, American men and women will vote tomorrow. In our own time, there is still work to be done, and hard work, in the fight for equality, justice and universal dignity. The history of the Men’s League for Women’s Suffrage, founded in New York in 1909, offers the reminder that we all can make it easier and happier work if we join in it, and provides a stirring example of how anybody might offer organized, meaningful support to a vital cause.
The Story of Support Continues