LITTLE ROCK – Little Rock’s Riverfront Park will soon be home to a new plaza featuring a sculpture which pays tribute to the 100th anniversary of Arkansas ratifying the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gave women the right to vote. Sculpture at the River Market is currently raising the funds to have the plaza built and the sculpture installed.
On July 28, 1919, Arkansas became the twelfth state to ratify the 19th Amendment (which would not go into effect until 1920 once 36 states ratified it). The effort that led to this achievement started decades earlier and picked up momentum in the post-Civil War era.
The plaza and sculpture will pay tribute to not only the national women but especially those from Arkansas who worked diligently for women’s suffrage. Every Word We Utter, Jane DeDecker’s sculpture which will be the focal point of the plaza, depicts some of the early national and Arkansas women who led the women’s suffrage movement. The names of over a dozen Arkansas women’s suffrage leaders who worked between 1869 and 1919 will be inscribed on the sculptural installation.
“Growing up after women had the right to vote, I admit I did not think about the women’s suffrage movement, nor do I remember it being taught in my classes,” said Dr. Dean Kumpuris of Sculpture at the River Market. “As the 100th anniversary was approaching, descendants of some of those early suffrage leaders started telling stories about the remarkable Arkansas women who fought for this basic right.”
“With this Women’s Suffrage Centennial,” Dr. Kumpuris continued, “now is the time to not only commemorate the achievement, but also to celebrate the courageous women who made it happen. It is our hope this plaza will be a focal point to inspire people to want to know more about these Arkansas women suffragists.”
“The State of Arkansas has several events celebrating the Women’s Suffrage Centennial. We are grateful to Governor Asa Hutchinson; Parks, Heritage, and Tourism Secretary Stacy Hurst; the Arkansas Women's Suffrage Centennial Commemoration Committee, and others for their leadership in this endeavor. Because Little Rock was the site of much of the women’s suffrage activity, we felt it was appropriate to have a permanent reminder here in the Capital City,” said Jane Rogers of Sculpture at the River Market.
Sculpture at the River Market is in the process of raising money for the project. Persons interested in donating, should contact Jane Rogers at (501) 517-1518. The Committee is encouraging those making donations to designate their gifts in honor or memory of specific women or an Arkansas suffragist. Donations of any size are welcome. However, donors of $1,000 and more will be recognized on a plaque in the plaza. The deadline to be included on the plaque is September 1, 2019.
“Through the sculpture and panels, the donations will provide educational and historical information about the fight for women’s suffrage,” said Rogers. “There are so many stories to tell in the long struggle for women’s suffrage. Through the women who are featured in it, the sculpture pays tribute to the decades-long struggle that involved a variety of women from different races, parts of the United States, and social standing. It truly was a collective effort to pass the 19th Amendment. Every Word We Utter pays tribute to all of these women.”
The plaza and sculpture will be dedicated in October. More details about the dedication will be released as the date gets closer.