Lexington, Ky. (WTVQ)- The countdown started from 19 to light up Lexington’s new monument, honoring the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, granting women the right to vote.
Governor Andy Beshear, Lieutenant Governor Jacqueline Coleman, and Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton all spoke at the celebration, which was postponed a day due to rain.
Members of the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council worked for years on a campaign called Breaking the Bronze Ceiling to put the monument, “Stand”, from artist Barbara Grygutis in place.
Many of the speakers at the unveiling emphasized the sculpture should serve as a reminder of the importance of voting, the hard work it took for so many to get that right, and the work still to do in enabling everyone to vote.
The passage of the 19th amendment 100 years ago didn’t guarantee the right to vote for everyone.
Fayette District Judge Melissa Moore Murphy was one of several speakers who reminded the crowd white suffragists often excluded women of color.
“Black women continued to stand, despite those who wanted to diminish their presence. They fought and they stood up for what they knew was one of the most valuable rights to possess,” Moore Murphy said.
The statue will permanently sit outside Lexington’s Big Blue Building. It features five 20-foot tall suffragists.
“Lexington is shining bright tonight,” Mayor Linda Gorton said. “Through this sculpture, we are recognizing the importance of women’s contributions to our city. With Lexington’s 245-year history, those contributions have been many.”
Councilwomen Jennifer Mossotti and Kathy Plomin have been raising money for the sculpture with the Breaking the Bronze Ceiling Committee since 2018.
“It is a long overdue piece of public art for Lexington and will serve as constant reminder to current and future generations of women’s perseverance in the suffrage movement, and the importance of exercising your right to vote,” Mossotti said.
Mossotti was the first person to publicly point out Lexington needed a sculpture honoring women’s contributions.
In fact, during his remarks, Governor Beshear mentioned fewer than 7% of the country’s 5,000 monuments are of women.
Councilwoman Plomin said 479 people donated, 81% of them women.
“This was a cool project for our community, and as always, our community came through with amazing support,” Plomin said.
She offered particular thanks to developer Dudley Webb, who welcomed the statue outside the big Blue Building on the Vine Street side.
Former Lexington Mayor Jim Gray also spoke. It was during his administration that fundraising for the statue began. He gave $100,000 for it in the 2018 city budget.
Congressman Andy Barr (R-KY) also spoke. He says he wrote letters of support to the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), which gave a $20,000 grant to complete the fundraising project.
“This is a great night for Lexington and the culmination of so much effort from our community that is truly inspiring,” said Congressman Barr. “I want to thank Councilmember Jennifer Mossotti and Councilmember Kathy Plomin for their leadership throughout this project. I was proud to join them and the entire Bronze Ceiling Steering Committee in supporting the NEA grant request that empowered this project to come to realization. I am especially looking forward to bringing my girls to visit this monument and teaching them about the hard work and perseverance shown by so many women throughout the suffrage movement.”
One of Barr’s support letters was a joint letter with Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY). Barr is co-sponsoring Maloney’s legislation to establish a Smithsonian National Women’s History Museum.