Last Friday, First Lady Chirlane McCray and Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen announced that a monument to the central Brooklyn leader will be erected at the Parkside entrance to Prospect Park.
Chisholm made history 50 years ago by becoming the first black woman elected to Congress. In 1972, she also became the first black woman from a major political party to run for president.
“Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm’s legacy of leadership and activism has paved the way for thousands of women to seek public office,” McCray said. “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.”
Chisholm’s statue will be the first commissioned by She Built NYC, a city initiative to build more public monuments honoring New York City women who have changed history. The public submitted more than 1,800 unique nominations after an open call earlier this summer.
According to city officials, 98 percent of respondents said they wanted to see someone honored for their commitment to social reform or justice.
An advisory panel helped refine the nominations and made recommendations to the city, officials said. She Built NYC will announce the artist to design Chisholm’s monument early next year. The statue will be installed by the end of 2020.
“There is no one more deserving than Representative Chisholm of a statue honoring her life and legacy,” Glen said. “May New Yorkers of all backgrounds be inspired by her story.”
Born in Brooklyn in 1924, Chisholm was the oldest of four daughters. Her father was a factory laborer from Guyana and her mother was a seamstress from Barbados.
After graduating from Brooklyn’s Girls High School, Chisholm studied sociology at Brooklyn College and later earned her master’s degree in early childhood education from Columbia University.
After she was elected in 1968, Chisholm achieved several policy victories, including creating nutrition assistance programs, expanding health care, increasing the minimum wage and passing Title IX.
After she retired in 1982, Chisholm was recognized in her home borough. A state office building in Fort Greene was named after her, and a post office in Bedford-Stuyvesant also now bears her name.
Chisholm passed away in 2005, and posthumously received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015 from President Barack Obama.
New York’s Congressional Delegation is now pushing to award Chisholm the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest honor that can be given by Congress.
Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, who is among those leading that push, said in a statement that Chisholm helped pave the way for many women, including herself, to run for, win and serve in elected office.
“This statue will serve as a monument to an extraordinary woman and political powerhouse who helped those who were vulnerable and underrepresented,” Clarke said. “I can think of no other leader more deserving of a permanent home in Prospect Park.”