Rebecca visited Central Park today! Unfortunately, not the same Central Park that she would have visited in New York in 1914, but still a Central Park all the same.
I was inspired to take Rebecca to Central Park for her very first photo shoot by a news segment I saw last week. There are twenty-nine statues in Central Park in NYC, but only two of them are women–and both are fictional! Coline Jenkins decided that Mother Goose and Alice in Wonderland were not sufficient representation for women and has started a fund to erect a statue of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony; obviously much better choices than characters from nursery rhymes and fairy tales. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony were two of the most influential women’s rights activists in history–actually, I think the term herstory would be most appropriate here!
Apart from the fact that the Central Park is located in Rebecca’s home city, this piece of news doubly reminds me of Rebecca because of the women chosen to be the subjects of the statue. Though Stanton and Anthony had both passed before Rebecca would have born or while she was a baby, they helped to set the stage for the dawn of a new era for women. Rebecca would have seen dramatic changes in her lifetime concerning women’s rights. As her books convey, women were becoming more and more outspoken concerning their working conditions and general rights to stand up for themselves. Samantha’s books also include this subject.
The statue project will hopefully be completed by 2017, which will be the 100th anniversary of New York’s legalization of women’s suffrage. The United States did not allow women to vote until 1920. Of all the historical American Girls, Rebecca is the first chronologically who would have been able to vote when she turned eighteen. Samantha (at the age of 22), Kit, Molly, and Julie all would have been able to enjoy the right, too. Kirsten and Addy might have gotten to vote in their lifetime, depending on how long they lived. Felicity, Caroline, and Josefina would never have seen this day, though I feel certain that Felicity especially would have enjoyed it. Interestingly enough, Kaya actually might have enjoyed more rights as a woman than many of the others; Native American women often had important leadership rolls in their tribes.
So today Rebecca is celebrating: Central Park is beautiful, women are inching closer to being fairly represented in bronze, and women in her lifetime made great strides toward the freedoms and independence we enjoy today.