Councilmember Robert Cornegy gathered the Crown Heights community on Monday at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum for the revealing of a maquette of a statue of Shirley Chisholm in honor of the 50th anniversary of her election to U.S. Congress.
The unveiling came three days after what would have been Chisholm’s 94th birthday. Cornegy was joined by former Assemblywoman Annette Robinson and members of the Crown Heights North Association and Friends of Brower Park.
“Because of Shirley Chisholm, young women and young people of color throughout this country have someone they can look up to and be inspired by,” said Cornegy. “This statue will serve as a reminder to our young people that they, too, can accomplish whatever they set their minds to.”
Born in Brooklyn to West Indian immigrant parents, Chisholm was the second African American elected to the New York State Legislature in 1964. After court-ordered redistricting created a new, heavily Democratic district including the neighborhoods of Crown Heights and Bedford Stuyvesant, Chisholm became the first African-American elected to Congress in 1968. Just four years later, she would also become the first woman and African American to run for president.
“It’s truly an honor to acknowledge someone who made such a significant contribution not only to our community but to the world,” said Deborah L. Young, president of the Crown Heights North Association. “And it is so fitting that this is happening now, with all that’s going on in our world today. With the power of women stepping up, it is so timely for this statue to be erected in our Crown Heights community.”
The full-scale, eight-feet-tall statue of Chisholm, created by Brooklyn artist Sterling Brown, is expected to assume its position in Brower Park by July 2019.
“Shirley Chisholm was a friend to many,” said former Assemblywoman Annette Robinson. “I am so glad that she will be honored in such a special way, and that our young people will be able to come and see a statue of Shirley Chisholm who walked the walk and talked the talk. She was unbossed and unbought.”
Monday’s unveiling was part of a larger cultural initiative to commemorate the history and contributions of people of color from Bedford Stuyvesant and Crown Heights, announced Cornegy. Chisholm’s statue will be the first of four iconic figures to be memorialized over the next four years.
“Today marks the beginning of a $1 million commitment to erect monuments in the 36th District to honor people from this community, who have achieved great things, “said Cornegy. “As we watch the negative aspects of gentrification and change of demographics take place, I wanted to make sure that our legacy is sealed in this symbolic way. Positive reinforcement of our young people, especially through stories of people who look like them and had an upbringing similar to theirs, is critical to the health and wellbeing of our communities everywhere.”