In its 167-year history, New York’s Central Park has seen the installation of some 30 statues-of white men and fictional women-like Alice in Wonderland at a tea party with the Mad Hatter, or a life-size statue of Juliet, in tender embrace with her Romeo. The park authorities, however, decided to rewrite history by unveiling its first statue of ‘real women’ on Wednesday, celebrating the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote.
In a small but significant step, the Park installed a statue, paying tribute to Sojourner Truth (1797-1883), Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906) and Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902) –who had pioneered the feminist movements in the country. The women are placed around a small table where they appear to be absorbed in intense discussion.
Inaugurating the statue, US former secretary of state Hillary Clinton said that the “Bronze Ceiling” was shattered. The statue is placed alongside one of the park’s most popular paths- the Literary Walk-not far from statues of Shakespeare, the poet Robert Burns and the author, politician and historian Sir Walter Scott.
“What we all seek is nothing less than a full and fair historical record … that reflects the contribution of all women and people of color, and we won’t stop until we win that,” said Pam Elam of Monumental Women association, which fights for wider recognition of women’s role in history.
While the initial plan was to install a statue of Anthony and Stanton, both white women, the debates that emerged after the killing of George Floyd made them rethink says Elam. And they ended up added Sojourner Truth, a prominent abolitionist who once delivered a famous speech “Ain’t I a Woman?”