Central Park Seneca Village Monument Will Honor African American Freed Slaves in NYC



NYC Monument Will Honor African-American Family Displaced to Make Way for Central Park

Before Central Park leveled it, Seneca Village was a thriving 20-year-old home to African American freed slaves property owners seeking sanctuary in New York City .

Many of its members owned their own property, set apart from the crowds—and discrimination—of the city’s more populated downtown area. But when local authorities began moving forward with plans to build Central Park, Seneca Village’s residents were forced to leave their homes.

A planned monument announced by Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office earlier this month is set to honor a prominent African-American family that once lived in the bustling community. As Julia Jacobs reports for the New York Times, the monument will pay tribute to the Lyons family, a trio of abolitionists, educators and property owners made up of Albro, Mary Joseph and their daughter Maritcha.

NYC Restaurateur Camilla Marcus Partners with Vivvi for Employer Subsidized Childcare

Camilla Marcus’ Westbourne cafe in New York Soho has partnered with Vivvi, to offer flexible hours, employer-subsidized, education-based healthcare for her New York workers.

Camilla Marcus’ Westbourne cafe in New York Soho has partnered with Vivvi, to offer flexible hours, employer-subsidized, education-based healthcare for her New York workers.

Worker-conscious restauranteur Camilla Marcus, the founder of Soho’s vegetarian cafe Westbourne, faced head-on the challenges her employees endured to find affordable and flexible hours childcare in New York. Formerly director of business development for Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group and the cofounder of TechTable, Marcus clearly has a “let’s get-it-done” mentality.

At first Marcus assumed research on finding affordable, flexible healthcare for her workers was primarily a “connecting the dots” job of finding realistic alternatives to the average $16,000 annual cost of having a family in New York as a working parent. Surely the mayor’s office could point Marcus in the right direction.

Frustrated and at the end of the road in her search for a worker-friendly childcare solution, Marcus was sent to Charles Bonello and Ben Newton, entrepreneurs who also saw the problem. Their checklist included a more affordable and accessible option that includes flexible hours, a robust early education curriculum, and back-up care options for those whose existing childcare is unavailable on short notice, writes Vogue US.

Vivvi, which is now open, partners with local employers to subsidize up to 100 percent of the cost of regular full-time care and backup care for working parents of infants, toddlers, and pre-school-age children. Thanks to Camilla, Vivvi's backup childcare is equipped to meet the needs of hospitality workers, with hours ranging from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. on weekdays and weekends.

"There are just not that many industries left where you don't need to have a certain degree," says Marcus. "You don't need to have a certain background and you can rise to a six-figure salary. We need to keep those pathways open and this [lack of accessible childcare] is a big barrier to that being possible."

For Camilla Marcus, she's leveraging her new partnership with Vivvi, now offering backup care to all of her employees at no cost. It's the beginning of a much-needed equalizing force in an industry that has long undervalued its workers.

"It isn't just a banker or a lawyer who is able to have access to this world class program," said Bonello. "It's also hospitality workers whose entire livelihood is tied up with being able to get to work and being able to get there during the times when it makes the most sense and it's most valuable. So it's empowering for us because our entire mission is honor the potential of work and families."

Read more details about this exciting project at Vogue US.

Statues For Equality by Aussie Artists Gillie + Marc Schattner Unveils First 10 Public Statues in New York

Zimbabwean scholar Tererai Trent has been immortalized in a bronze statue in New York

Zimbabwean scholar Tererai Trent has been immortalized in a bronze statue in New York

Life-size statues of 10 accomplished women across a wide spectrum of global life were unveiled in New York this week. Standing next to larger-than-life humanist-activist stars like Oprah, Nicole Kidman and Cate Blanchett is Zimbabwean scholar Tererai Trent.

Trent grew up in Zimbabwe where girls were not educated. Determined to learn, Trent taught herself to read and relocated to the US in 1998 through the efforts of an American nonprofit that visited her village. This “dream” come true of getting a bachelor’s degree, a master’s, and a PhD was realized after she wrote down her aspirations, sealing them in a tin can and burying them deep in the ground.

Trent’s life in America was hardly a carefree, upwards climb, but like so many women, she is a survivor. Today Dr Tererai Trent is one of the world’s most internationally recognized voices for quality education and women’s empowerment. Distinguished as Oprah Winfrey’s “All-time favorite guest”, Trent is a prominent activist for equal rights to education. Read more about Dr. Trent’s story.

Where . . . oh where are the women?

The lack of representation of women in public spaces has long been associated with patriarchal attitudes and the general “invisibility” of women globally.

New York is grappling with its own embarrassing dearth of female statues in Manhattan and the five boroughs, with a whopping 3% of public humans honored being female. Consider that one of those memorable female “beings” is Alice in Wonderland in Central Park, and you understand the scope of the problem.

Alice in Wonderland statue in Central Park.

Alice in Wonderland statue in Central Park.

There’s a note of irony in two Aussie artists seeking to remedy New York’s “no women statues” problem, but in the era of Trump, we’ll take any help we can get. Sculptors Gillie and Marc Schattner launched Statues For Equality to commemorate Women's Equality Day on August 26 under the "Sculpted for Equal Rights" banner.

Note that Sydney and London are also in the ditch with their own scores of 4% and 3% of historical women statues, suggesting that New York can be a global launchpad for their effort, a hunch confirmed by the Statues For Equality website.

The New York project is just the start of Statues For Equality and the initiative is now worldwide, with projects in many different countries, including Australia the UK and the US. Gillie and Marc are keen that the sculptures are representative of all women and know that the public are the best people to ensure this happens! 

“We hope that as the project expands, it will include a broader diversity of race, class, ability, sexual orientation and gender expression,” says Gillie.

Besides Blanchett, Kidman, Trent and Winfrey, other women honored with New York statues include Cheryl Strayed, Gabby Douglas, Jane Goodall, Janet Mock, Pink, and Tracy Dyson. Read their stories.

Central Park Women's Suffrage Monument Redesigned to Include Sojourner Truth

Central ParkWomen's History  Monument.jpg

For nearly a year, the proposed Central Park statue honoring women’s suffrage in America has been plagued in controversy. It’s difficult to believe that in 2019, planners of the monument could be so tone-deaf to the race-related arguments swirling around America’s women’s rights history.

The Women’s March 2017, organized by a group of women who refused to honor legendary women’s rights Hillary Clinton, after her defeat by Donald Trump. signaled a new day for setting the record straight — the truth and also new lies and distortions — about the history of American feminism.

The original design by sculptor Meredith Bergmann visually elevated two prominent white women — Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton — over a scrolling list of 22 other women, seven of them women of color. AOC disagrees with the complaint that Anthony and Stanton were metaphorically “standing’ on the other women.” But they certainly look like boss ladies at a time when younger people are rejecting hierarchy and white superiority, along with a nonexistent recognition of the contributions of people of color — and slaves specifically — in building America.

For context, there is NO statue of any nonfictional female of any skin color in Central Park and around New York, writes the New York Times. The park currently features no historical women but statues of fictional girls like Alice from Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and Juliet from William Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet.’

While a new visual of the proposed statue to be erected on Central Park’s Literary Walk by 2020 is not available, it’s a miracle that the proposed design was aborted at all. Women including Gloria Steinem helped turn back the design against the nearly insurmountable rules and regulations that defined its artistic creation initially and the legitimate controversy that ensued.

“Our goal has always been to honor the diverse women in history who fought for equality and justice and who dedicated their lives to fight for Women’s Rights,” Pam Elam said in a statement. The president of the Monumental Women’s Statue Fund, the group financing the sculpture, added: “It is fitting that Anthony, Stanton, and Truth stand together in this statue as they often did in life.” via Hyperallergic.

New York Is the First City To Fund Abortion Directly. Let's Make Sure It's Not the Last


New York Is the First City To Fund Abortion Directly. Let's Make Sure It's Not the Last

Last week, abortion access advocates in New York made history. When the ink dries on next year’s budget, New York will become the first city in the country to directly fund abortion by allocating $250,000 to the New York Abortion Access Fund (NYAAF), which supports anyone who is unable to pay fully for an abortion and is living in or traveling to New York state by providing financial assistance and connections to other resources. This funding will help ensure that every person is able to decide when and whether to become a parent regardless of their income, type of insurance, or citizenship status.

In the face of increasing attacks on abortion access throughout the country, New York City’s commitment to funding abortion sends a powerful message—one that activists in other cities and states can push for.

This is an essential step as we work toward ending the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal funding for most abortions. And we know it won’t be the last: Advocates in progressive cities like ours can seize the opportunity to turn supporters into champions, to advocate for policymakers who talk the talk about abortion access to also walk the walk. Even in progressive states, people face barriers to abortion access.

Madonna Kicks Off 50th Anniversary Stonewall Inn LBGTQ Gay Rights Events


Madonna launched her role as an ambassador for the 50th anniversary celebrations commemorating riots at New York’s Greenwich Village Stonewall Inn with a New Years Eve drop-in.

Accompanied by her son David Banda on acoustic guitar, the pop star welcomed 2019 in the iconic bar that jump-started the modern LBGTQ movement. Madonna led the crowd in a sing-along of "Like a Prayer" and covered Elvis Presley's "Can't Help Falling in Love."

"I stand here proudly at the place where pride began, the legendary Stonewall Inn, on the birth of a new year," she said. "We come together tonight to celebrate 50 years of revolution.”

The singer called for peace and understanding in her speech, saying, “If we truly took the time to get to know one another we would find that we all bleed the same color and we all need to love and be loved. Let’s remember who and what we are fighting for — ourselves, for each other, but truly and most importantly, what are we fighting for? Let’s take a minute to reflect on how we can bring more love and peace into 2019, let’s look at how we can bring random acts of kindness. Maybe we can find an opening to bring the light in. Are you ready to do that?"