City of Pittsburgh Seeking Input on Statue Honoring African American Woman

Katie Phillips Active + Engaged Residents, Advocacy, Diverse + Connected Region

UPDATE 4/10/2018: The City of Pittsburgh Task Force on Women in Public Art has scheduled five public forums “to engage and collect more feedback in selecting an African American woman to be honored with a statue at the site of the Stephen Foster Statue in North Oakland.”

Meeting schedule:

  • April 17 – McKinley Recreation Center
  • April 19 – Pittsburgh Project
  • April 25 – Nazarene Baptist Church
  • May 1 – Sheraden Healthy Active Living Center (Senior Center)
  • May 3 – Hill House Association

Read the new press release and see the full schedule of meetings.

                                                                  
The City of Pittsburgh shared a press release on Wednesday, March 14, 2018, seeking the public’s help in selecting an African American woman to be honored with a statue at the site of the Stephen Foster statue in North Oakland.

Mayor Peduto and his Task Force on Women in Public Art are working to address the fact that “there are very few monuments in Pittsburgh dedicated to the many women leaders who have left their mark on the city” and that there are currently no African American women represented by monuments in Pittsburgh.

There will be a series of community meetings to gather public input scheduled soon. There is currently a web forum open where the public can share their feedback as well.

The Stephen Foster statue is a controversial statue representing Stephen Foster, famous Pittsburgh-born songwriter, watching a slave who sits at his feet playing a banjo. The Stephen Foster statue is due to be removed in April after a public process to determine the fate of the controversial monument, and so the city would like to replace it with a monument “honoring the legacy of African American women and their impressive leadership in Pittsburgh.”

The press release notes that “Public art is a vehicle to tell local histories, to enhance quality of life, to add beauty and value to the urban landscape and to inspire people across all cultures, generations, and economic circumstances. The City of Pittsburgh believes in inclusivity and equality, and ensuring that all can see themselves in the art around them. It is imperative then that our public art reflect the diversity of our city and that we accordingly represent our diverse heroes.”

The Peduto administration has been working with many organizations on this initiative, including Gwen’s Girls, Hill House Association, Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild, Women and Girls Foundation, the Women’s Institute at Chatham University, and the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh “to begin the process of commissioning public art representing women of color and their many notable achievements.”

Read the full press release here.