“The fact that no real women are honored by statues in the Nation’s most famous and most important park is not simply an oversight.” – Pam Elam, Women’s Rights Activist and former New York City Government Executive
Woman You Should Know Pam Elam has embarked on a mission of epic proportions and historic significance… to create a statue in Central Park honoring Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and those who fought for Woman Suffrage. With this statue, she not only wants to rectify an egregious injustice to women that has lasted in New York City for over 150 years, she wants to bring a bit of women’s history to the 40 million people who visit the Nation’s most famous park each year.
Pam told WYSK, “There are no statues honoring real women in Central Park. There are statues of Alice in Wonderland, Mother Goose, and Juliet (with Romeo), but no tributes to the real women who made this City, State, and Nation great.” She added, “There are numerous representations of the female form (like angels, nymphs and allegorical figures), but statues celebrating the vast and varied contributions of real women are nowhere to be found.”
Though Elam believes that many women deserve to be honored by statues and monuments in Central Park, her present proposal is focused on Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, two pioneering women whose valiant work helped change the world’s very definition of “democracy.” By honoring them with this monument, Elam notes that New York City will have the privilege of paying homage to the biggest nonviolent revolution in the history of our nation — the battle for woman suffrage.
In addition to featuring Stanton and Anthony, the proposed statue will include an inscribed Honor Roll around its base, listing the names of other women, whose work was crucial to the success of woman suffrage. These extraordinary women include: Lucy Stone, Sojourner Truth, Alice Paul, Lucy Burns, Mary Church Terrell, Carrie Chapman Catt, Anna Howard Shaw, Matilda Joslyn Gage, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Alva Belmont, Harriot Stanton Blatch, and Alice Stone Blackwell. The Honor Roll will also have a blank space to represent the many unnamed others who devoted their lives to obtaining the vote for women.
In establishing the organization that will make this tribute to some of history’s most courageous women possible, Pam is joined by a number of women and men committed to equality and justice. The Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony Central Park Statue Fund committee members include Coline Jenkins, the great-great granddaughter of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and President of the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Trust; Dr. Myriam Miedzian, Author and former Professor of Philosophy; and Gary Ferdman, Not-for-profit Executive.
“We have received no direct response from the Mayor’s office despite repeated attempts to follow-up.”
To launch their grassroots campaign, the Statue Fund committee sent a letter of intent, as required by NYC Parks Department guidelines on donating works of art, to Mayor Bill de Blasio over six months ago. Elam shared with us, “We have received no direct response from the Mayor’s office despite repeated attempts to follow-up.” They remain undeterred.
As soon as they do get the green light to proceed from the powers that be, Pam says, “we will begin raising funds to support the Statue Fund campaign and creation of the statue, as well as contributions to provide a $50,000 endowment.”
In addition to Gloria Steinem, Diane Keaton, and U.S. Representative Carolyn Maloney, a growing list of distinguished, heavy hitter women and men have already signed on to endorse the Statue Fund committee’s monumental endeavor:
Ruth J. Abram, Founder of the Lower East Side Tenement Museum; Jane Alexander, Former Director of the National Endowment for the Arts; Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer; Lewis Cullman, Philanthropist; Professor of History Ellen Carol DuBois; Agnes Gund, President Emerita of the Museum of Modern Art; Judy Hart, Superintendent (retired) of the National Women’s Rights Historical Park in Seneca Falls; Deborah L. Hughes, President and CEO of the Susan B. Anthony House and Museum in Rochester; Helen LaKelly Hunt, Philanthropist; Lilly Ledbetter, inspiration for the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act; Edith Mayo, Curator Emerita for the Political History Division of the Smithsonian Institution; Ana Oliveira, Foundation CEO; Robert M. Pennoyer, Attorney; Roberta Schneiderman, Philanthropist; U.S. Representative Louise Slaughter; and Carmen Delgado Votaw, National Board Member of the National Conference of Puerto Rican Women.
Women You Should Know Co-Founders Jen Jones and Cynthia Hornig have just been added to the campaign’s list of endorsers. It’s interesting to note that the WYSK editorial office is just blocks from where Stanton and Anthony’s editorial office for their women’s rights newspaper – The Revolution – once stood.
Why New York City?
Elizabeth Cady Stanton was largely responsible for organizing the nation’s First Woman’s Rights Convention held in Seneca Falls, New York in 1848. That meeting represented the beginning of a national, later international, movement for women’s rights led by Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and others, that continues to the present around the world.
Stanton and Anthony met in 1851 at an anti-slavery meeting and forged a partnership that lasted for over fifty years. Both had New York City and State roots. Stanton was born in upstate New York and moved to New York City in 1862. She died in 1902 in her West 94th Street apartment just blocks from Central Park and is buried at Woodlawn Cemetery. Anthony, whose earlier residence was in Rochester, also lived in New York City for parts of her life. Anthony and Stanton published their newspaper, The Revolution, here in 1868 and founded the National Woman Suffrage Association here in 1869. They organized countless conventions, rallies, marches, and meetings in New York City.
Important New York historical milestones regarding Stanton, Anthony, and Woman Suffrage will be celebrated in the near future such as the 200th anniversary of the birth of Elizabeth Cady Stanton in 2015; the New York State Woman Suffrage Centennial in 2017; the National Woman Suffrage Centennial in 2020; and the 200th anniversary of the birth of Susan B. Anthony in 2020.