Monumental Women’s Statue Fund has commissioned and endowed a monument in Central Park honoring pioneers in the battle for Woman Suffrage and the movement for women’s rights, scheduled for installation on August 26, 2020.
The Monument will also be included in the Talking Statues Project, with actors portraying each of the three monumental women. Actors Jane Alexander and America Ferrera will be the voice of Susan B. Anthony; Viola Davis and Zoe Saldana will be the voice of Sojourner Truth; and Meryl Streep and Rita Moreno will be the voice of Elizabeth Cady Stanton. This exciting announcement is in honor of the 172nd Anniversary of the Seneca Falls Convention in July, 2020.
The winning design by artist Meredith Bergmann, recently amended, includes Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Sojourner Truth. All three are remarkable and monumental women’s rights pioneers who were New Yorkers and contemporaries. In the amended design, nationally-recognized sculptor Meredith Bergmann shows Anthony, Stanton, and Truth working together in Stanton’s home, where it is historically documented they met and spent time together.
The NYC Public Design Commission must review the amended design of the statue, which will be unveiled on The Mall in Central Park on August 26, 2020, the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, when women constitutionally won the right to vote. Next year is also the 200th anniversary of Susan B. Anthony’s birth.
“Our goal has always been to honor the diverse women in history who fought for equality and justice and who dedicated their lives to the fight for Women’s Rights. We want to tell their stories and help create a full and fair historical record of their vast and varied contributions. When the Public Design Commission unanimously approved our previous design with Anthony and Stanton, but required that a scroll with names and quotes of 22 diverse women’s suffrage leaders be removed, we knew we needed to go back to the drawing board and create a new design. It is fitting that Anthony, Stanton, and Truth stand together in this statue as they often did in life.” said Pam Elam, President of Monumental Women. New rendering above.
Monumental Women’s Statue Fund was officially organized as a not-for-profit group in 2014 with the initial goal of breaking the bronze ceiling and creating the first statue of real women in Central Park with other statues planned throughout New York City. Monumental Women has the further goals of increasing awareness and appreciation of Women’s History through a nationwide education campaign and challenging municipalities across the country to rethink the past and reshape the future by including tributes in their public spaces to the diverse women who helped create and inspire those cities.
“This statue is a big deal for New York City, and I’m thrilled that it will include Sojourner Truth,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “I thank Monumental Women’s Statue Fund for all of their hard work championing the representation of monumental women in New York City. This would not have happened had this group not knocked down every barrier in their way to making New York City more reflective of its fearless female leaders.”
“Sojourner Truth used her voice to dismantle inequality and campaign for a just society,” said N YC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP. “Her unwavering faith in the potential for change established her as a defender of liberty. Through Monumental Women adding her to their statue, Truth’s legacy and powerful contribution to the women’s rights movement will be forever commemorated in Central Park for all to see.”
Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony spent much of their 50 year relationship working and living in New York City. In 1863, they founded the Women’s Loyal National League here which was dedicated to the abolishment of slavery. They collected hundreds of thousands of petition signatures urging President Abraham Lincoln and Congress to immediately end slavery through the 13th Amendment. In 1866, Stanton was the first woman to run for Congress, in what was then the Eighth Congressional District in New York City. Stanton and Anthony published The Revolution, a weekly newspaper about women’s rights from 1868-70, founded the National Woman Suffrage Association in 1869, and organized and attended countless conventions, rallies and meetings dedicated to women’s rights and suffrage over the decades – all in New York City. Stanton and Anthony also loved Central Park. Anthony took long walks in the park and Stanton played with her children there.
Sojourner Truth, was born into slavery in Ulster County, New York in 1797. She went on to become one of the most powerful advocates for human rights in the nation. She escaped from slavery in 1827 and later joined the abolitionist movement. She lived in and around New York City from 1828 to 1843. By the 1850s Sojourner Truth joined the fight for women’s rights as well. At the 1851 Women’s Rights Convention held in Akron, Ohio, Truth delivered what is now recognized as one of the most famous abolitionist and women’s rights speeches in American history, “Ain’t I a Woman?”.
Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton often attended the same meetings and conventions and spoke on the same stages. Historical records show that Stanton and Anthony sent letters, messages, and invitations to Sojourner Truth and that they often supported one another in their work.
“The three figures each represent an essential aspect of activism. Sojourner Truth is speaking, Susan B. Anthony is bringing documentation of injustice, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton is poised to write. Girls and boys who encounter this monument will see a positive image of diverse women working together to change the world,” said Meredith Bergmann. Bergmann’s works also include the Boston’s Women’s Memorial, the September 11th Memorial at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City, and more. The image of Monumental Women’s redesigned statue will be released for Women’s Equality Day (August 26th).
Truth, Anthony and Stanton represent only the start of our 2020 Women’s History Education Campaign, as we seek to honor all the diverse women who worked tirelessly for women’s rights.
In 2020, their Education Campaign will bring information on the valiant women who have come before us to communities throughout New York City.
Monumental Women will Put Her on a Pedestal workshops invite young people to reimagine their parks and public spaces to include statues of women who have inspired them. Their educators share information with participants about many women of courage and accomplishment and then everyone participates in a fun hands-on arts activity to create a statue. If you’re interested in bringing Put Her on a Pedestal to your neighborhood, please email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
Their Speakers Bureau, made up of historians and activists, will offer talks on women’s rights and history in New York and across the nation. If you’re interested in hosting a program or event, please email them at email@example.com
Monumental Women will also begin the process of creating a Women’s Rights History Trail to go throughout all five boroughs. It will cover the key people and moments in the fight for the full equality of women in New York City and beyond. Stay tuned for more details. In addition, we hope to be in contact with all the school and public libraries in the City to make sure that resources and books on Women’s History are readily available.
Monumental Women is excited to announce #100YearsWomenVote Follow on Instagram @MonumentalWomennyc for daily posts on milestones, individuals and events that led to the ratification of the 19th Amendment.
Count down with us to the centennial anniversary of women winning the right to vote and the unveiling of the first statue of real women in Central Park’s 165-year history on August 26, 2020.
And what do NYC’s current monuments have to say? Check out NYC Talking Statues.
Take a look at some of NYC’s Monuments dedicated to Women.