SENECA FALLS — Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Martha Coffin Wright and Laura Cornelius Kellogg will be the four women’s suffrage activists depicted in a statue being created for Seneca Falls by renowned sculptor Jane DeDecker of Iowa.
The statue, called “Ripples of Change,” will be unveiled near the existing statue of “When Anthony Met Stanton” on East Bayard Street near the Cayuga-Seneca Canal and the Ovid Street Bridge in late summer of 2021.
The statue is a gift to the community, known as the Birthplace of the Women’s Rights Movement, from the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission in Washington, D.C. The WSCC was created by Congress in 2017 to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, granting women the right to vote, passed in 1920, and to honor the history of women fighting for that right.
Tubman, who died in 1913 and is buried in Auburn, was an abolitionist and political activist who was born a slave in Maryland, escaped and made 13 missions back to Maryland to rescue 70 slaves, using the Underground Railroad. She also was a spy and nurse for the Union Army during the Civil War.
Truth also was born a slave. She escaped in 1826 and became an abolitionist and women’s rights activist. She died in 1883 in Battle Creek, Michigan.
Wright, of Auburn, was one of five women who organized the 1848 women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls. She was a feminist, abolitionist and signer of the Declaration of Sentiments at the 1848 convention. She died in 1875 in Boston.
Kellogg was selected for depiction on the fourth statue by a group of Haudenosaunee clan mothers, chiefs, scholars, historians, artists and leaders. She was a member and leader of the Oneida Indian Nation, suffragist, author, orator, visionary and founder of the Society of American Indians. She died in 1947 in New York City.
DeDecker is working with Haudenosaunee artist Diane Schenandoah on indigenous representation within the artwork.
The “Ripples of Change” statue is expected to be unveiled along the former Seneca River next to the Anthony and Stanton statue and likely will be moved to People’s Park in downtown Seneca Falls as a central part of the revitalization of the park in the coming years.
“In 1848, the first women’s rights convention in the United States was held in our very own Wesleyan Chapel, today known as the Women’s Rights National Historical Park,” said Joell Murney-Karsten, chairwoman of the Seneca Falls Development Corporation.
“Our community has always celebrated its unique role in the history of women’s fight for suffrage and equality and Ripples of Change will serve as a bold visual reminder of the inspiring women who led the way,” she added.
Town Supervisor Mike Ferrara said that “Seneca Falls is honored to be selected as the site for this incredible tribute.”
“We collectively extend our gratitude to everyone involved in this extraordinary project,” he added.
WSCC Executive Director Anna Laymon said the four trailblazers who will be represented in the statue “fought for freedom, equality and the right to have their voices heard and their votes counted.”
“The suffrage centennial in 2020 has provided an unparalleled opportunity to honor the legacy of women like Kellogg, Tubman, Wright and Truth and with this memorial, we will ensure their leadership and their contributions to democracy are not forgotten,” Laymon said.
Schenandoah, a traditional member of the Oneida Nation and co-founder of Indigenous Concepts Consulting, said the Haudenosaunee Confederacy was the guidepost that America’s Founding Fathers relied upon when fashioning the U.S. Constitution and “our women were the source of inspiration to suffragists who sought the full power and respect that our Haudenosaunee women have always had.”
She said Kellogg stood up against American colonizing practices. “This statue will stand on the land of the Cayuga Nation of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy and it is our hope that Laura’s words and actions will inspire the public to be active participants in reclaiming this truth,” Schenandoah said.
New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul said the state “is proud to receive this statue from the federal Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission. Ripples of Change honors our state as the birthplace of the women’s rights movement, recognizes the legacy of New York suffragists and encourages the continued fight for women’s rights and protections.”