Fifty years after Shirley Chisholm became the first Black woman elected to Congress, New York City has announced it will erect a statue in honor of the congresswoman by 2020.
Addressing a void in New York of a lack of statues that honor women, the city’s first lady, Chirlane McCray, told The New York Times that she approved the statue, in part, to “correct a glaring inequity in our public spaces.” The statue will be placed in the borough of Brooklyn, outside of Prospect Park’s Parkside entrance.
Born on Nov. 30, 1924, Chisholm died in 2005 at 80 years old. In 1972, the congresswoman from Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn became the first Black woman to seek a presidential nomination and the first woman to run for the top post as a Democrat—even without the official backing of the party.
“I hope that putting up the statue now will encourage even more,” McCray told The Times.
Back in June, New York City officials embarked on an initiative to increase the representation of women in public art around the city. As part of the She Built NYC initiative, officials asked city residents to suggest women who have strong connections to New York. Chisholm, known for her “unbought and unbossed” campaign slogan, which also became the title of her autobiography, was a clear favorite.
Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen told The Times that the artist who will design the statue “who we hope and expect to be a woman” would be announced in March. The statue could cost up to $1 million to build, the Times reported.
Chisholm leaves behind a rich legacy. She promoted racial and gender equality efforts through the NAACP and the League of Women Voters, among other organizations. As a congresswoman, Chisholm advocated for an end to the Vietnam War, she fought for working class people, and was the first black woman to join the House Rules Committee.
Following her retirement from Congress, Chisholm said that she wanted to be remembered not as the first Black woman elected to Congress, or as the first Black woman who ran for president. Instead, she wanted to be remembered as “a woman who lived in the 20th century and who dared to be a catalyst of change,” CNN reported.