New York City is known as one of the most diverse cities in the world, but of the 23 statues of historical figures that currently dot Central Park, not one is of a woman. Now, this imbalance is being righted a bit, thanks to the Monumental Women organization, which secured approval from the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation to build a statue featuring abolitionists, suffragists and women’s rights pioneers Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. According to NBC New York, Truth’s likeness was added only after criticism about the lack of a Black suffragist in the design.
“This statue conveys the power of women working together to bring about revolutionary change in our society,” Monumental Women president Pam Elam told NBC. With $1.5 million in private funding raised to create and maintain the monument, and a corresponding education program, the statue will be dedicated in August 2020. That month coincides with the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which gave White women the right to vote.
Sculptor Meredith Bergmann, addressed the initial Whitewash in a statement on the monument’s website. “We need to be true to our new understanding of the historical record, which does not shrink from calling out injustice and oppression, or minimize the contributions of people of color or the harms done to people of color,” Bergmann wrote. “We need to correct the injustice done to women of all races and their invisibility in public spaces. We need to commemorate an important landmark in the so far endless struggle for justice in America without forgetting that had America been true to its founding principles, movements for equal rights would never have been necessary.”
In the statue, Truth, who is speaking, sits with Stanton at a small table as she writes, while Anthony, in organizing mode, stands behind the table with a traveling bag stuffed with documentation of injustices to help focus the discussion.