During my visit to Richmond a couple weeks ago, I was able to attend the Groundbreaking for the Virginia Women’s Monument. I’d attended an event several months prior and learned about this amazing project, and immediately started doing my part (my very, very small part) in helping to get the word out about it.
In 2010, the General Assembly established the Virginia Women’s Monument Commission to “recommend an appropriate monument in Capitol Square to commemorate the contributions of the women of Virginia”.
“Voices from the Garden is the first monument of its kind in the nation recognizing the full range of women’s contributions. Voices takes the form of an oval shaped garden that encompasses twelve bronze statues of significant women from different centuries, backgrounds, and areas of the state. The statues will be surrounded by a glass panel, etched with names of other noteworthy Virginia women”.
It was a bright, beautiful December morning, and I was glad that I arrived early as the seats filled in quickly and it was soon standing room only.
One of the attendees was Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley (1818 – 1907). The actress (I wrote down her name, but regrettably I lost the slip of paper) portraying Elizabeth stayed in character during the ceremony and shared some of her story.
A slave who bought her freedom, Elizabeth became Mary Todd Lincoln’s seamstress and confidant during the White House years.
She established the Contraband Relief Association, which provided support for recently freed slaves and wounded soldiers, and she wrote a book called “Behind the Scenes in the Lincoln White House: Memoirs of an African-American Seamstress”.
Governor McAuliffe, long a champion of this project was present as was Nancy Rodrigues, Secretary of the Administration and a chief fundraiser for the project.
After the ceremony, many people picked up a shovel and took the opportunity to be captured in a photo. Of course, I had to as well!
The inspirational woman on the right, in response to my comment about how I didn’t really break the ground said “oh yes you did. We ALL did, and we still are”.
How right she is!
Fundraising still needs to be done. Please follow this link if you’d like to contribute to the Virginia Women’s Monument.