NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray announced today that in two years, a statue of former congresswoman and political trailblazer Shirley Chisholm will be standing tall at the Parkside entrance to Prospect Park.


It was nine years ago when we first wrote about the incredible difference in the number of male and female statues in New York City. The numbers have not changed since then; there are still around 145 statues honoring male historical figures across the five boroughs, while only five historical females are represented: Joan of Arc, Golda Meir, Gertrude Stein, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Har­riet Tubman.

If you think "well, they're only statues," think of what message this sends to anyone traversing the city. It says that men built this city, that men are more important than women, that men are more deserving of these honors. But McCray is changing the landscape and the message it sends with her She Built NYC initiative, and the first big step is this statue of Chisholm. Forever a fighter for women and minorities, she was the perfect choice, and the announcement comes on what would have been her 94th birthday, and the 50th anniversary of her election to the House of Representatives.

"Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm's legacy of leadership and activism has paved the way for thousands of women to seek public office," said McCray. "She is exactly the kind of New York woman whose contributions should be honored with representation in our public spaces, and that is now being realized with She Built NYC."

Former Mayor David Dinkins had this to say:

"Shirley Chisolm earned her reputation as a trailblazer the hard way - by getting out in front of an issue and following it through. She played out her life on a large stage where her every movement was scrutinized and every decision questioned. Her career was a series of 'firsts.' 'First Blacks' bear the burden for their own destiny, as well as that of every other African American who hopes to follow. Shirley Chisholm bore that burden better than most. Through her feisty spirit, dogged persistence, and unwillingness to compromise the truth, she made a powerful difference in more lives than she would ever know. She had a real connection with the people of Brooklyn, and dealt with difficult issues and circumstances with the courage, frankness and flair that was her trademark. This is an honor suited to Shirley Chisolm, the trailblazer."

Chisholm was the first black woman to seek the presidential nomination, in 1972, after already becoming the nation's first black female Representative.

The decision to erect a Chisholm statue was made by an advisory panel "with individuals representing a broad range of expertise and backgrounds." The artist who will create the statue will be announced in early 2019, and the monument will be installed by the end of 2020. That same year Central Park will get its first historical female statue, depicting Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony.

There will also be a new 407-acre park along Jamaica Bay named Shirley Chisholm State Park, opening in 2019. And in Crown Heights, you can visit Shirley Chisholm Circle.

Meanwhile, it was also just announced that Viola Davis would produce and star in Amazon Studios upcoming film, The Fighting Shirley Chisholm.