In 2018, the non-profit the Monumental Women Statue Fund set out to address the gender disparity among Central Park’s historical statues. The first statue designed by the Fund, however, has been met with criticism and is now getting redesigned.
The statue honors important figures in the women’s suffrage movement. Originally, the design featured Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton holding a scroll which listed the names of twenty-two other suffragettes. Critics immediately called out the design for using only white women to represent a large, diverse movement.
On August 12, the Monumental Women Statue Fund released a press statement announcing the redesign of the statue. The new statue will depict Sojourner Truth, an abolitionist and women’s rights advocate, working alongside Stanton and Anthony in Stanton’s home, where it is documented that they met. In the press release, President of the Fund Pam Elam said, “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.”
Of Central Park’s twenty-three statues depicting historical figures, none depict a woman. Throughout New York City, there are only five statues in outdoor public spaces representing historical women.
The redesigned women’s rights statue will be unveiled in Central Park on August 26, 2020, the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment.