August is a historic month for several reasons that all share a common theme/thread. Not only is it the month in which Women’s Equality Day falls (August 26), but it’s also the anniversary month of the ratification of the 19th amendment, which gave women the right to vote 100 years ago on August 18, 1920. And now, we can add yet another momentous occasion to the August calendar for years to come: August 26, 2020 also marks the culmination of years of effort by Monumental Women, of which Head of the New York Life Foundation Heather Nesle is a board member, to recognize female historical figures in a big way.
New York Life became involved in this effort in 2016 when we joined forces with Monumental Women to break the bronze ceiling in New York City's Central Park. We made a $500,000 Challenge Grant toward the creation of the Park's first statue of real women.
Presently, Central Park only includes statues of fictional characters, such as Mother Goose, Alice in Wonderland, Juliet (with her Romeo), and numerous representations of the female form (like angels, nymphs, and allegorical figures).
A commitment to diversity and women’s issues
The grant was another way for the company to honor women and all those who battled to achieve votes for women, the largest non-violent revolution in this nation's history, and to demonstrate New York Life’s commitment to diversity and women’s issues. The grant was also appealing to the company because of the historic relationship New York Life had with the Anthony family. Susan B. Anthony used the cash value from her New York Life insurance policy to guarantee admittance to the first female students at the University of Rochester. In addition, Anthony's father, brother, and brother-in-law were New York Life agents. We are pleased to support the Women's Rights Pioneers Monument that honors Anthony, Sojourner Truth, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
"Let this statue be an instant history lesson for all the people who see it. Let this statue remind people to examine social change movements to learn from the past and do a better job of carrying on the fight for equal rights and justice in the future" -Pam Elam, President of The Statue Fund
President of The Statue Fund Pam Elam offered this summary of Monumental Women’s hopes: "Let this statue be an instant history lesson for all the people who see it. Let this statue remind people to examine social change movements to learn from the past and do a better job of carrying on the fight for equal rights and justice in the future. Let this statue challenge municipalities across the nation to honor all those who have made their cities great by including tributes to women and people of color in their public spaces. But first and foremost, let's acknowledge the debt we owe to the valiant women who have come before us, be inspired by their legacies, and complete their journeys toward equality."
photo credit: sculptor Meredith Bergmann.
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