Monument to Honor Shirley Chisholm Moves Forward
August 17, 2023
A tribute to a hero is coming to Brooklyn’s Backyard! The design of the Shirley Chisholm monument, at the Parkside and Ocean Avenue entrance to Prospect Park has been unanimously approved by the New York City Public Design Commission. The monument will pay homage to Brooklyn trailblazer Shirley Chisholm, the first Black congresswoman and the first woman to seek the Democratic presidential nomination.
The monument to Chisholm and her profound legacy as a champion of Brooklyn and national icon of empowerment will greet park visitors at this gateway to the Flatbush community and beyond. The design by artists Amanda Williams and Olalekan B. Jeyifous, “Our Destiny, Our Democracy,” was selected through an open design competition organized by the Department of Cultural Affairs, which invited community members to vote for their favorite design. The design, made of painted steel, patinated bronze and carved stone, features a monumental portrait of Chisholm patterned with images of plants native to Brooklyn and Barbados, where Chisholm spent ages five through nine, including Pride of Barbados, American Chestnut and Wild Geranium, juxtaposed with the nation’s Capitol Building. The stonework surrounding the monument includes a Chisholm quote and an outline of the House of Representatives seating plan, with a bronze plaque representing Chisholm’s seat.
“Depending upon your vantage point and approach to the Ocean Avenue entrance of Prospect Park, you can see Ms. Chisholm’s silhouette inextricably intertwined with the iconic dome of the U.S. Capitol building,” shared Williams and Jeyifous in The New York Times. “This trailblazing woman was not diminutive and this monument reflects how Chisholm’s collaborative ideals were larger than herself.” The monument will be the first permanent public artwork in Brooklyn dedicated to a woman in history and the first to celebrate a woman and Black hero in Prospect Park.
“This monument will introduce new generations to the legacy and contributions of this pioneering Brooklynite, and remind us all about the great things that grow from our community,” said Morgan Monaco, President of Prospect Park Alliance. “When your history is not always acknowledged or celebrated it can feel debilitating. I can’t wait for this monument to stand as a beacon for all who enter Prospect Park to feel connected to her legacy and to feel that Prospect Park is a space for them.”
“This administration is committed to working to tell a more complete story surrounding the trailblazing women who have shaped our city, and we are ready to get more of these projects back underway,” said Laurie Cumbo, New York City Commissioner of Cultural Affairs, to in The New York Times.
In addition to the monument, the Alliance is restoring the Ocean Avenue perimeter and Parkside Entrance to the park through $16.5 million in City funding, which will include new pedestrian pathways, historic lighting, street furniture, trees and plantings; a new protected bike lane; and, through funding from Council Member Rita Joseph, the restoration of the entrance’s historic pergola. The City also has allocated $6.75 million in funding from City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, former Council Member (and current Cultural Affairs Commissioner) Laurie Cumbo and the Brooklyn Delegation of the City Council, including Council Members Crystal Hudson, Rita Joseph and Shahana Hanif, to fund the Shirley Chisholm Welcome Center. This Prospect Park Alliance project will transform a historic building near the Parkside entrance that is currently used as a maintenance facility into a visitor center and restroom.
A conceptual rendering of the Shirley Chisholm monument by Amanda Williams and Olalekan B. Jeyifous.