By Pam Steel
One memorial on Commonwealth Avenue Mall always stands out for me—the Boston Women’s Memorial!
Unlike the other statues of statesmen, politicians and men of history—high on their pedestals— the figures of the Women’s Memorial are casual, approachable and they are WOMEN!
Over the years I have noticed there is a dialog between people and these statues. On Election Day 2016, when Hilary Clinton was running against Donald Trump, formal floral arrangements appeared at the memorial—I assume in anticipation of a victory for the first woman president.
I passed by days after Hillary’s defeat and wondered if I’d see dead flowers. Thankfully the flower arrangements had been removed and instead a few simple chrysanthemums were in place. Then I noticed a crumpled handwritten note attached to the Women’s Memorial: “Ladies, I’m so sorry. We worked so hard. (heart shape)(We’ll) continue to fight for equality.
As women, we must stand together stronger than ever to make the future brighter for our daughters and the entire world. Thank you, Hillary!”
In addition several people had applied “ I VOTED” stickers—one placed near the Susan B. Anthony quote: “The legal right for woman to record her opinion wherever opinions count”…
Another time, on International Women’s Day, March 8, I noticed a bouquet offering in Abigail Adams arms with a note saying: “A tribute to women who work for equality, justice and peace—past, present and future…Stronger women = stronger nations”
The Boston Women’s Memorial was a long time in coming. Conceived in 1992, it took ten years to raise the money, chose the subjects, and select the artist.
In 2003, Boston finally dedicated its first formal piece of Boston public art celebrating the contribution of women, thanks to efforts of the Boston’s Women’s Commission, the former First Lady Angela Menino, the Commonwealth Avenue Mall Committee and the Massachusetts Historical Society.
In 2018, Boston city officials, joined representatives from many of these organizations to celebrate the Memorial’s 15th anniversary. In attendance was the sculptor Meredith Bergmann, who recently completed the Women’s Rights Pioneers monument in Central Park, commemorating women’s right to vote.
Located on the Commonwealth Avenue Mall, between Fairfield and Gloucester Streets, the three bronze women, who all share a Boston connection, form an outdoor space between them.
Abigail Adams stands tall and her your eyes meet hers as you approach. She was the wife of the second US president, and mother of the sixth. She reminded her husband that when forming the new code of laws to: “Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors.” (1744–1818)
Lucy Stone leans forward as if on a desk. She was an abolitionist and suffragist— a renowned orator and leading figure in the women’s rights movement. (1818–1893)
Phillis Wheatley, holds a quill as if writing one of her poems. She was brought from Africa as a slave, but became a literary prodigy and the first African American writer to have her poems published, (1753–1784).