How About Sojourner Truth on the $5 Bill?

Can you think of a U.S. holiday named after a woman?

No? That’s because there are none. Women are also conspicuously near-absent on U.S. currency, statues, stamps and street names.

The non-profit organization Equal Visibility Everywhere (EVE), launched this month, is determined to solve this problem by achieving gender parity in the country’s symbols and icons.

EVE will launch projects in all 50 states to increase the number of monuments, memorials and statues depicting women, as well as streets and buildings named after women. The group’s mission is to “[highlight] women’s history and achievements, eliminat[e] gender bias in our nation’s symbolism and cultural representations, and provid[e] empowering role models for girls and women.”

A few stats:

  • The U.S. Postal Service honored only 43 women out of 206 people on commemorative stamps (21 percent) from 2000 to 2009.
  • Of 100 statues featured in the U.S. Capitol’s statuary hall, only nine depict women.
  • The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has only included 10 balloons of female characters in its 85 years.
  • No woman is featured on any U.S. paper currency.

EVE’s first goal is to persuade the state of Ohio to replace the statue of  pro-slavery Ohio governor William Allen in the U.S. Capitol’s statuary hall with a statue of a woman. Members showed up on Monday at the Ohio Historical Society in Columbus accompanied by three actors dressed as Ohio women Harriet Beecher Stowe, Judith Resnik and Harriet Taylor Upton (below).

Ohioans will have until June 12 to vote on which historical figure (out of 10) will reside in the statuary hall. If you live in Ohio, vote here: http://www.legacyforohio.org.

Welcome to the feminist community, EVE! Finally, someone is proactively updating the icons and visual images we see everyday so that, at last, women and girls are proportionately represented.

Top: Statue of Sojourner Truth in Battle Creek, Mo. Photo courtesy of battlecreekcvb / Creative Commons.

Bottom: Actors at the Ohio Historical Center: Harriet Beecher Stowe, Judith Resnik and Harriet Taylor Upton. Photo courtesy of EVE.

Comments

  1. Amanda Montei says:

    Wow. Somehow I never even realized this! Thanks for this piece Alexandra!

  2. Thanks so much for this wonderful write-up, Ali, and for the warm welcome!

  3. our generation takes the achievements women before us made for granted. this falls right in the pattern of taking second place, let the guys take all the credit. hardly ever are women praised. alice paul, lucy stone, lucy burns, elizabeth cady stanton, susanne b anthony, elizabeth blackwell, nelly bly, rachel carson, sojourner truth, ida b wells, and many more should be household names. i started reading after hillary clinton’s speech at the democratic convention in 2008. and was i surprised to hear about the night of terror, the brilliance of alice paul, the endurance and singlemindedness, the courage and the bonding of women. without it we would not vote today or have access to all the professions. we have to remember and memorialize these women.

  4. This is such a necessary movement – I am so proud to know feminist women and men have banded together to increase representation of women and to create a country where boys grow up thinking they both can do anything. I can’t wait to see what this organization can do!

  5. I love it! We definitely need more recognition for women in history.

  6. Emily Hawley says:

    I was very happy to read that the EVE program is pushing to have the new statue be a women. There are so many women that have contributed to our society in so many ways and they deserve to be recognized. I was surprised when I read the stats because I never thought about how women are rarely on money or that there is no holiday named after a women.

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  4. [...] statues in the hall and may switch theirs every 10 years. EVE already has a campaign underway in Ohio to replace one of its statues with a woman, and is working on campaigns for women statues in [...]

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