The grounds of New York City’s famed Central Park have been flagged with statues of noteworthy men for more than a century. But for the first time in the 167-year history of the site, real-life women are finding their place. On Wednesday, a bronze statue depicting Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton will be unveiled in the park.
“We’re honored to be the group that breaks the bronze ceiling,” Pam Elam, president of Monumental Women, told NBC4 New York. The non-profit group petitioned to have women be a part of the scenery in Central Park for seven years. The timing for this particular statue comes as the world is celebrating 100 years since the passage of the 19th Amendment, which gave white women the right to vote.
Truth was born into slavery in New York and escaped the confines of bondage to become an abolitionist and women’s rights activist. Though she is one of the most celebrated women’s rights figures of the nineteenth century, her work, along with other Black women, has been often erased from the suffrage movement.
“Any number of commemorations will be taking place this week and next that will lift up the name of Susan B. Anthony and other White suffragists,” Junette Pinkney, a media relations specialist with public engagement initiative, “Suffrage. Race. Power. Black Women Unerased” tells ESSENCE. “But what most of those programs and commemorations will leave out is the role of Black women in securing the vote for all women. That part of the suffrage history has been largely erased.”
SRP Unerased is one of many Black women-led organizations that are ensuring the stories of Truth and other Black suffragists are not overlooked in this moment. Black women were also instrumental in making sure the Central Park statue recognized their efforts.
In 2014, Monumental Women had an initial plan was to design the statue with just Stanton and Anthony. However, pushback from those who recognized that the statue of two white women would minimize the contributions of African Americans, led them to include Truth despite her notable disagreements with the two women.
Sculptor Meredith Bergmann designed the monument to show Truth speaking, Anthony organizing, and Stanton writing. She told CNN it is a representation of the three essential elements of activism.