Central Park Seneca Village Monument Will Honor African American Freed Slaves in NYC

A DOUBLE AMBROTYPE PORTRAIT OF ALBRO LYONS, SR. AND MARY JOSEPH LYONS. NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY.

A DOUBLE AMBROTYPE PORTRAIT OF ALBRO LYONS, SR. AND MARY JOSEPH LYONS. NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY.

NYC Monument Will Honor African-American Family Displaced to Make Way for Central Park

Before Central Park leveled it, Seneca Village was a thriving 20-year-old home to African American freed slaves property owners seeking sanctuary in New York City .

Many of its members owned their own property, set apart from the crowds—and discrimination—of the city’s more populated downtown area. But when local authorities began moving forward with plans to build Central Park, Seneca Village’s residents were forced to leave their homes.

A planned monument announced by Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office earlier this month is set to honor a prominent African-American family that once lived in the bustling community. As Julia Jacobs reports for the New York Times, the monument will pay tribute to the Lyons family, a trio of abolitionists, educators and property owners made up of Albro, Mary Joseph and their daughter Maritcha.

Central Park Women's Suffrage Monument Redesigned to Include Sojourner Truth

Central ParkWomen's History  Monument.jpg

For nearly a year, the proposed Central Park statue honoring women’s suffrage in America has been plagued in controversy. It’s difficult to believe that in 2019, planners of the monument could be so tone-deaf to the race-related arguments swirling around America’s women’s rights history.

The Women’s March 2017, organized by a group of women who refused to honor legendary women’s rights Hillary Clinton, after her defeat by Donald Trump. signaled a new day for setting the record straight — the truth and also new lies and distortions — about the history of American feminism.

The original design by sculptor Meredith Bergmann visually elevated two prominent white women — Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton — over a scrolling list of 22 other women, seven of them women of color. AOC disagrees with the complaint that Anthony and Stanton were metaphorically “standing’ on the other women.” But they certainly look like boss ladies at a time when younger people are rejecting hierarchy and white superiority, along with a nonexistent recognition of the contributions of people of color — and slaves specifically — in building America.

For context, there is NO statue of any nonfictional female of any skin color in Central Park and around New York, writes the New York Times. The park currently features no historical women but statues of fictional girls like Alice from Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and Juliet from William Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet.’

While a new visual of the proposed statue to be erected on Central Park’s Literary Walk by 2020 is not available, it’s a miracle that the proposed design was aborted at all. Women including Gloria Steinem helped turn back the design against the nearly insurmountable rules and regulations that defined its artistic creation initially and the legitimate controversy that ensued.

“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,” Pam Elam said in a statement. The president of the Monumental Women’s Statue Fund, the group financing the sculpture, added: “It is fitting that Anthony, Stanton, and Truth stand together in this statue as they often did in life.” via Hyperallergic.