Honoring Monumental Leaders

A Central Park tribute to women’s rights pioneers - and STEM innovators

25 Aug 2020 | 02:39

On Women’s Equality Day on Wednesday, a large purple covering was pulled off in Central Park, revealing a statue honoring “Women’s Rights Pioneers” Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The 14-foot-tall monument by sculptor Meredith Bergmann was seven years in the making, and an array of women leaders turned out to celebrate the event. Hillary Clinton and Rep. Carolyn Maloney addressed the crowd.

It was the first statue depicting real women (rather than fictional characters) in Central Park. Aug. 26 marked the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which incorporated women’s right to vote in the U.S. Constitution.

“The fact that there were no statues of women [in Central Park] seemed to mean that the accomplishments of women were meaningless, certainly not worthy of a statue,’’ Bergmann told the AP. “So it’s long overdue, and it’s wonderful that these three great and inspiring and incredibly hardworking activist women are here in Central Park and they can inspire us to continue to fight for equal rights, for fairness and for justice for women, for minority groups, for people of color, for everyone now.’’

“Congratulations to @MonumentalWomen and all the activists who worked tirelessly to make the 1st statue of Women’s Rights Pioneers in Central Park a reality,” Brewer posted on Instagram. “Today, on Women’s Equality Day, history has been made!”

Women of STEM

Central Park was recently the site of another effort to honor women of accomplishment - an initiative recognizing women who work in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). Lyda Hill Philanthropies®’ IF/THEN® Initiative created #IfThenSheCan – The Exhibit, a 3D-printed display of 122 female statues. While COVID-19 delayed the launch of the full exhibit, the organization arranged for a pop-up preview, with six statues on display at Central Park Zoo through Oct. 31.

“Our goal is for girls everywhere to see STEM as exciting, relevant, and cool, and seeding the visual landscape with images of relatable and diverse women is key to making this happen,” said Nicole Small, CEO of Lyda Hill Philanthropies® and co-founder of the IF/THEN® Initiative.

The six women depicted all work in wildlife conservation: Kristine Inman, wildlife biologist, Wildlife Conservation Society; Rae Wynn-Grant, large carnivore ecologist, National Geographic Society; Dorothy Tovar, Stanford University microbiologist; Jess Cramp, shark researcher and marine conservationist, Sharks Pacific; Earyn McGee, herpetologist focused on lizards, University of Arizona; and Kristen Lear, bat conservationist, Bat Conservation International.

Said Wynn-Grant, 34, who studies how bears and lions interact: “We’re doing science work that’s absolutely making the world a better place.”

- With the Associated Press