More than four years after initially announcing plans to a erect a statue honoring New York congresswoman Shirley Chisholm in Prospect Park, NYC’s Public Design Commission unanimously approved the latest proposed design this past Monday, July 17.
A Brooklyn native born and raised in Bed-Stuy, Shirley Chisholm made history in 1968 as the first Black woman to serve in Congress, using the campaign slogan “unbought and unbossed.” She died in 2005 at 80 years old, with her NY Times obituary referring to her as “an outspoken, steely educator-turned-politician who shattered racial and gender barriers.”
The design, which will be done by artists Amanda Williams and Olalekan B. Jeyifous, is slightly scaled back compared to the original version presented more than four years ago. To comply with accessibility laws, the statue is now eight feet shorter and fencing and sunken elements have been removed.
The base of the monument mimics the amphitheater-like layout of the congressional floor, with each seat representing those who came after Chisholm as well as leaving room for those who have yet to come.
The yellow and green statue will stand 32-feet tall near the southeast entrance of Prospect Park.
Depending upon your vantage point to the entrance of the park, Chisholm’s silhouette will appear intertwined with the dome of the U.S. Capitol building, symbolizing how she disrupted the perception of who has the right to occupy such institutions and to be an embodiment for democracy.
In a design presentation Williams and Jeyifous stated that the monument will celebrate Chisholm’s legacy as a civil servant who left the door open to future generations of women to “follow in her path toward equity and a place in our country’s political landscape.”
“This trailblazing woman was not diminutive and this monument reflects how Chisholm’s collaborative ideals were larger than herself,” said Williams and Jeyifous.
The statue was originally proposed back in 2018 with plans to complete in 2020, however the pandemic along with the beginning of a new mayoral administration threw a wrench in that plan. The Department of Cultural Affairs is now working towards having the statue installed by 2025.