Monumental Women Celebrating August 26, 2021 ~ Women’s Equality Day ~ with a Five-Borough Women’s Rights History Trail



The redesigned Women’s Rights Pioneers Monument featuring Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Rendering of the statue in its future Central Park location, image courtesy Monumental Women

Last year on August 26, 2020, Monumental Women unveiled the monument featuring Women’s Rights Pioneers Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton on the Literary Walk in Central Park.

This August 26th ~ Women’s Equality Day, Monumental Women will celebrate by unveiling a new and virtual five-borough Women’s Rights History Trail Map on the Women’s Rights History Trail. This map will feature over 150 New York City historical women, some famous and some not well-know ~ all deceased ~ linked to locations around the City, where key moments in advancing women’s rights occurred.

Image via Monumental Women online

With the goal for the trail to convey the depth and breadth of the instrumental role New York City has played in advancing women’s rights, the map includes women from diverse generations, movements, occupations, ethnicities, and backgrounds.  Through user-friendly short descriptions, people can learn more about women’s history and find sites throughout the City that they may have walked by without knowing anything about the important events that took place there.

To begin to create the Trail, Monumental Women invited Community Boards, historical societies, museums, neighborhood associations and women’s groups to make suggestions for women, women’s groups, and locations to be included on the Trail. MW is also establishing a Trail advisory committee of local experts to help with continuing to add women and sites to the Trail as well as help evaluate any submissions from the public (submission form on the website).  In the future – with funding donations — MW also hopes to physically mark the Trail sites and provide more information about the women and groups associated with sites through an app with narration and images.  As the Trail expands, we plan to create mini-trails for particular subjects and neighborhoods.

Monumental Women President Pam Elam presenting Manhattan Borough President, Gale Brewer with the 1st ever Monumental Women “Moving History Forward” Award, which will be given to Brewer on the one-year anniversary of the Women’s Rights Pioneers Monument on August 26, 2021. Image via Instagram.

In addition to the Women’s Rights Historic Trail, Monumental Women will present the first ever Moving History Forward Awards to the individuals or groups who were indispensable to the creation of our statue. The first award goes to Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer who has been a champion from the start when a statue of women in Central Park was just a dream. Gale Brewer is not only an elected official who truly cares about and serves her community, she is a true friend to Monumental Women.  Penelope Cox from the Manhattan Borough President’s Office will also receive an award for her tireless advocacy for our project.  Former Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver will received a Moving History Forward Award for lifting the moratorium on new statues in Central Park. Like us, Commissioner Silver believes in the importance of representation of women and people of color in New York City’s parks and public spaces. We thank him for his support.

Taking a closer look

Monumental Women would not be where it is today without the early funding by New York Life Insurance Company whose $500,000 matching grant was the spark that lit the fuse of our fundraising appeals. In the end, Monumental Women raised $1.5 million of private funding to make the monument a reality. New York Life was there from the start and will be honored with an award to be accepted by Heather Nesle.  Another Moving History Forward award goes to the firm of Beyer Blinder Belle for its invaluable work facilitating a national sculpture design competition and for providing project management and technical services for site preparation and the monument’s installation.  Those from BBB receiving the awards are Richard Southwick, Susan Baggs, and Kat Monaghan.  In addition, three Girl Scout Troops — 3484, 3482, and 3746— will be the recipients of Moving History Forward awards. The troop members brought joy, determination, and hard work to the fight to build a statue honoring the countless diverse women who won the vote. Back when the patch of lawn on Literary Walk was just an empty spot, Girl Scouts marched through Central Park chanting “Where are the women?” Then they set to work selling cookie box after cookie box to raise money for the statue fund. For the girls, working on this effort was their first-ever lesson in civics engagement. They have been lucky to see the process from idea to a reality that now sits 36 tons heavy and 14-feet tall on that patch of lawn under the canopy of an elm tree. One girl commented, “it looks like it’s been there all along!” And it should have been.

Monumental Women is also looking forward with two immediate missions – an education campaign and working with nonprofits and municipalities across the country to include more tribes to women and people of color. These projects are currently well underway.

Also, looking ahead to 2022, Monumental Women will donate 1/3 size model of Women’s Rights Pioneers Monument to the New York State Museum in Albany.

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A look-back at the unveiling of the monument on August 26, 2020.