New Brooklyn monument to honor first African American Congresswoman


Newswise — ITHACA, N.Y. – A monument honoring political icon Shirley Chisholm — the first African American woman elected to Congress — will soon rise in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. It will be the first of five monuments designed to honor women who have made significant contributions to New York City.

Titled “Our Destiny, Our Democracy,” the Chisholm monument was created by Cornell University architecture alumni Amanda Williams ’97 and Olalekan Jeyifous ’00.

The 40-foot tall steel gateway to the park will interweave a multidimensional portrait of Chisholm and a silhouette of the U.S. Capitol Dome. It will also feature a small seating area below.

Williams and Jeyifous were commissioned to create the memorial as the winners of a call for submissions sponsored by the She Built NYC public art project. They both see this project as an integral step in their artistic evolutions.

“We saw the She Built NYC initiative as an opportunity to honor an individual who fought hard for the recognition of women and people of color during her lifetime,” Williams said. “It’s important for people to learn about her and from her.”

Jeyifous said the design is unconventional, reflecting an unconventional subject.

“This is not a die-cast sculpture on a pediment,” he said. “For us, it’s about creating a space that’s part of the conversation about the community and its history.”

The memorial is large, colorful and reflects the “audacious” character of Brooklyn, Williams said. Chisholm, who died in 2005, was audacious in her own right, being the first black woman elected to Congress, in 1968, and becoming the first black woman to run for president, in 1972.

Completion of “Our Destiny, Our Democracy” is expected in the summer of 2020.

For more information, see this Cornell Chronicle story.

Cornell University has dedicated television and audio studios available for media interviews supporting full HD, ISDN and web-based platforms.

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