Fewer than 3% of the public monuments in the United States are dedicated to women, and even fewer to Black women. Most are to white men, plenty of which celebrate slave owners or Confederate generals.
A community’s monuments reflect its values. And massive, public statues celebrating racists sends quite a message.
That’s why the She Built initiative in New York, which is creating monuments across the city honoring women - primarily Black women - is raising eyebrows and getting accolades.
Though she’s mostly known today for being the wife of NYC mayor Bill DeBlasio, Chirlane McCray is a journalist, political consultant, member of the Black feminist Combahee River Collective - and creator of this initiative.
The first statue being built honors pioneering activist and politician Shirley Chisholm.
Future plans include monuments to significant historical Black women Billie Holiday, Elizabeth Jennings Graham, and Marsha P. Johnson.
Even better? The artists chosen! Black artists are routinely pushed out of consideration for the creation of public art, so McCray and the She Built committee chose Amanda Williams And Olalekan Jeyifous’s gorgeous proposal for the Chisholm monument.
Black folks always look out for our own. Whenever we have the opportunity, we lift each other up, work together, and highlight each others’ accomplishments - and we applaud Chirlane McCray for doing exactly this!