NEW YORK – A year after the unveiling in Central Park of a bronze statue of women’s rights pioneers Sojourner Truth, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, the work of Monumental Women is far from over.
And this is no surprise to Namita Luthra, the daughter of Drs. Sucheta and JK Luthra from Weirton, who sits on the board of the nonprofit that was the catalyst for the park’s first monument in honor of historical heroines.
The 14-foot-high, 36-ton monument dedicated to the three lawyers of the 19th century was unveiled on August 26, 2020, on the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the amendment allowing women to vote.
Fast forward a year, and Monumental Women is moving forward with new projects and goals.
On August 26, which is Women’s Equality Day, the group celebrated the first anniversary “by publishing new work to fulfill our other two missions – an education campaign and by working with nonprofits and municipalities across the country to reimagine their public spaces to include women and people of color.” , according to Luthra.
The virtual celebration included a short video in which Pam Elam, Chairman of the Board of Monumental Women, highlighted four reasons for excitement.
The recently launched New York City Five Boroughs Virtual Women’s Rights Trail is one of them.
It prompts visitors to find a map with over 150 New York City “historical” women – some famous and others less famous – linked to places in the city where key moments in the promotion of women’s rights have occurred.
To access it, visit https://monumentalwomen.org/map/ or the Monumental Women Facebook page.
In an effort to convey the depth and breadth of the instrumental role New York City has played in women’s rights, the map features women of diverse generations, movements, professions, ethnicities, and backgrounds.
“With short, user-friendly descriptions, people can learn about women’s history and find sites all over the city that they may have passed through without knowing anything about important events that took place there.”
Going forward, with the help of local experts and the public, Monumental Women will add women and sites to the trail, physically mark sites, and provide more site information through an app with narration and images. All of the women on the trail are deceased.
The first anniversary was also celebrated by Monumental Women presenting the first Moving History Forward awards to people or groups essential to the creation of the statue.
The prices went to:
– Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, a champion from the start when a statue of women in Central Park was just a dream;
– Penelope Cox of the Manhattan Borough President’s Office for her tireless advocacy;
– Former Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver for lifting the moratorium on new statues in Central Park.
– New York Life Insurance Co., whose $ 500,000 matching grant was the spark that ignited the fundraising fuse. The award was accepted by Heather Nesle.
– The Beyer Blinder Belle firm for its invaluable work in facilitating a national sculpture design competition and providing technical services for site preparation and monument installation. Those from BBB who received the awards were Richard Southwick, Susan Baggs and Kat Monaghan.
– Three Girl Scout Troops – Nos. 3484, 3482 and 3746 – were applauded along with the award recipients. “The troop members brought joy, determination and hard work to the struggle to build a public sculpture honoring the countless diverse women who won the vote. “
Jaya Shri, Luthra’s daughter, is a member of Troop 3482.
Starting this month, Monumental Women will make merchandise available for purchase on its website. All proceeds from the sale of merchandise will support its women’s history education programs and projects.
Looking ahead to 2022, Monumental Women will donate a one-third model of the Monument to the Pioneers of Women’s Rights to the New York State Museum in Albany. The model will be received by museum officials Jennifer Lemack and Ashley Hopkins-Benton.
“It is so important to bring history to life, and the work of Monumental Women contributes to it” said Luthra, who is vice chairman of the board.
“I knew that the monument to the pioneers of women’s rights was historic” she said while commenting on the first anniversary of the monument’s inauguration. “But what I hadn’t guessed was how far a 36-ton, 14-foot-tall bronze sculpture would extend. New Yorkers and visitors to the park have enlarged it in extraordinary ways – turning it into a makeshift memorial for Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg when she died last September, covering the sign in “I voted ‘stickers on November 3, and using it as the backdrop for two mayoral candidates press conferences over the summer, highlighting women not only as voters, but in the arena as candidates.
“As our recent work demonstrates, far from over, Monumental Women has only just begun. added Luthra, who after graduating from Law School at the University of Pittsburgh moved to New York City, where she resides with her husband and two children.
The statue was designed, created and funded by Monumental Women, a nonprofit organization run by volunteers and made up of women’s rights advocates, historians and community leaders. Luthra is director of Monumental Women, which was established in 2014 with the initial aim of “break the bronze ceiling” and create the first statue of real women in the park whose female offerings have so far been limited to Alice in Wonderland, Mother Goose, Juliet with Romeo, witches, nymphs and angels, according to the Monumental Women’s website.
Its other goals are cited as “To increase awareness and appreciation of women’s history through a nationwide education campaign and challenge municipalities across the country to rethink the past and reshape the future by including tributes in their public spaces to the various women who have helped to create and inspire these cities ”.
Luthra first learned about the work of Monumental Women through newspaper articles about Girl Scout troops in New York City raising funds for the statue. She brought the idea to her daughter’s Girl Scout troop, who sold Girl Scout cookies to raise money for Monumental Women. They donated $ 2,000, attended events and finally met sculptor Meredith Bergmann. Several girls from the Girl Scout Troops who raised funds for the monument were in attendance at the unveiling, including Luthra’s daughter.
With the inauguration of the monument, then the historical route, Elam is “Excited to see what we come up with next to increase awareness and appreciation of women’s history.” “
Brenda Berkman, vice-chair of the board and retired FDNY captain, said: “In 2021, Monumental Women has worked hard to fulfill its core missions of educating the public about women’s history and honoring more women and people of color in public spaces – first with its toolkit to help other groups and now with the unveiling of our five- New York Borough Historic Women’s Rights Trail. We want everyone to explore the trail and share.
Luthra said the question ” Where are the women ? “ has been a recurring theme for her over the years.
“It happened in 2016 when Girl Scouts marched through Central Park in New York City holding up signs, chanting them, asking why there were no women in public statuary in the park and raising awareness of monumental women. “ she commented.
“It came back when my father showed me Indian genealogical records of our family tree going back 17 generations, and there was no female name on them. Imagine that – the human beings who gave birth to the mapped humans were nowhere in sight. Exactly half of the story has been lost. The question arises in corporate boards across the country and at the highest levels of elected offices – although that is changing. And this is perhaps the most striking case under the Taliban. Where are the women on the city streets, in schools, jobs and markets? “ she continued.
“Women’s rights advocates insist on the strong engagement of women in all aspects of public life, not only for the sake of justice, but because women’s participation benefits everyone. We miss the capacity, industry and genius of women and girls when we allow artificial barriers to rise. Lifting up women and girls lifts us all. The performance in public commemoration – the extraordinary work that Monumental Women is doing – is part of this larger mission for me. “