November 7, 2017 marked the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote in the state of New York (the 19th Amendment, which extended this right to all states, was ratified three years later). Travel & Leisure reports that, in honor of the occasion, it was announced yesterday that statues of suffragettes Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton are coming to Central Park.
The statues of Anthony and Stanton will be the first sculptures of real women in New York City's most famous park. (No disrespect to the beautiful Alice in Wonderland sculpture, but it's about time.)
The project was a collaboration between a Girl Scout group and The Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony Statue Fund Inc., according to Time Out New York.
"Girls should have someone to look up to in the park," sixth-grader Stori Small said, as reported by amNewYork. "Do you really want to grow up to be Alice in Wonderland or do you want to grow up to be a real woman who can inspire, who can do anything if they put their mind to it?"
There has been some debate about the decision to honor Susan B. Anthony, according to Travel & Leisure. Although she worked tirelessly to secure women's voting rights and was even arrested for doing so, her progressive ideals didn't extend to the Black community. Anthony was part of the abolitionist movement, but the voting rights of Blacks weren't her priority.
During a speech at Equal Rights Convention of 1866, Frederick Douglass described voting rights as "vital" for Black men and "desirable" for women, according to the book Women Transforming Politics: An Alternative Reader. At the same convention, Anthony declared that she would "cut off this right arm of mine before I will ever work or demand the ballot for the Negro and not the woman."
Of course Douglass and Anthony were both in the wrong when they made these particular statements. But with intersectional feminism finally getting the attention it deserves, it's certainly fair to be angry that Anthony was chosen rather than someone like Sojourner Truth, who not only escaped slavery but fought for all women's right to vote. The statues are certainly a milestone, but they're also a reminder of feminism's complicated (and often deeply problematic) relationship with race.