Advocates push for more women statues in Virginia, across the country

Advocates push for more women statues in Virginia, across the country
Posted at 12:57 PM, Sep 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-18 12:57:06-04

RICHMOND, Va. - Empty pedestals now line Richmond's Monument Avenue after the removal of Confederate statues. Now, many wonder what will go up in their place.

Ajena Rogers finds comfort in a nook of Jackson Ward.

As the acting chief of interpretation for the Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site, she played a key role in the planning, design and execution of the memorial which came to life in 2017.

"It just amazed me that you didn't have someone go, 'why do you want to honor her?' It was, 'Yeah, she should be honored.' The question was how?" Rogers said.

The benches, landscape, markers and statue tell the story of a Richmond civil rights activist, entrepreneur and leader who broke barriers as a woman during the reconstruction era.

"She was an example of how, even if rights are being pulled away, you continue to speak up, you continue to take action, you continue to agitate and struggle. Using what she had, using the skills that she had as a woman," Rogers said.

Her statue stands tall in her city more than 80 years after her death.

"As a woman who was a child growing up in Virginia, not seeing the physical representation of someone who looked like me. It is so uplifting," Rogers said.

In Richmond, there are just four monuments that depict women, according to the Valentine Museum.

Those statues are the Statue of Liberty at Chimborazo, the Virginia War Memorial, the Civil Rights Monument at Capitol Square and Maggie Walker.

Two additional statues are in progress.

This number is compared to at least 25 monuments in Richmond that depict men, even after several Confederate statues were removed over the past year.

This trend is seen nationwide. Out of an estimated 5,100 statues across the United States, fewer than 400 are women.

On Capitol Hill, Senator Amy Klobuchar is leading a bipartisan effort to erect more monuments of women. She said that she hopes this effort will help to start similar dialogues across the country.

"We better get started because we have a lot of history to make up for," Klobuchar said.

These efforts come as Richmond begins a long process of what Monument Avenue will look like now that many of its statues have been taken down.

The project, spearheaded by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, says that inclusivity will be central to their initiative.

"Our lives are fleeting. We come and go off the world stage. But to have something that will last and remind other little girls that they were present. It's a place where you can really go and see it and be reminded, that's why I come," Rogers said.