Historians Raise Concerns Over Central Park’s Suffragist MonumentHistorians in the News
tags: historians, monuments, womens rights, suffragists, Central Park, 19th Amendment, Sojourner Truth
Attempts to appease critics of Central Park’s forthcoming permanent monument to women’s suffrage may have unintentionally backfired.
For almost a year, scholars have accused Monumental Women’s Statue Fund (the nonprofit funding the sculpture) of whitewashing history by spotlighting the suffragists Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony without paying equal tribute to the many women of color who contributed to the movement. Last week, the group said that the statue would now include Sojourner Truth, an abolitionist and women’s rights activist best-known for her rousing “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech first delivered at the 1851 Women’s Convention in Akron, Ohio.
“Our goal has always been to honor the diverse women in history who fought for equality and justice and who dedicated their lives to fight for Women’s Rights,” said Pam Elam, president of the Statue Fund, in a statement. “It is fitting that Anthony, Stanton, and Truth stand together in this statue as they often did in life.”
But not everyone agrees with the Statue Fund’s angle on history. More than 20 leading academics have signed onto a letter asking that the public art process involving the monument become more transparent and inclusive.
“If Sojourner Truth is added in a manner that simply shows her working together with Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton in Stanton’s home, it could obscure the substantial differences between white and black suffrage activists, and would be misleading,” reads parts of the note. “While Truth did stay at Stanton’s home for one week to attend the May 1867 meeting of the Equal Rights Association, there isn’t evidence that they planned or worked together there as a group of three.”
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