By Mike Cason | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Alabama Department of Archives History today unveiled busts of two women who fought for voting rights in Alabama, monuments that will be on permanent display in the ADAH’s Statuary Hall.
Pattie Ruffner Jacobs, (1875-1935) was Alabama’s leading suffrage activist, founding the Alabama Equal Suffrage Association and serving as its president from 1912 to 1916, according to the ADAH. When the Alabama Legislature declined to pass a suffrage amendment in 2015, Jacobs turned her focus to a national amendment, helping organize and serve as a board member for the National American Women Suffrage Association. After the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920, she helped establish the Alabama affiliate of the League of Women Voters and served on the organization’s national board.
Amelia Boynton Robinson, (1911-2015), was one of Alabama’s leading civil rights and voting rights activists, co-founding the Dallas County Voters League in 1933 and leading efforts to register Black voters at a time when that was difficult and dangerous, according to the ADAH. Robinson was among the civil rights marchers beaten and gassed on the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Bloody Sunday, March 7, 1965, a day that helped galvanize support for the Voting Rights Act passed by Congress later that year. President Lyndon Johnson invited her to attend the signing of the landmark bill.
Jacobs and Robinson are the first two women to be honored with statues in Statuary Hall, which has busts of six men.
Gov. Kay Ivey attended the unveiling. Relatives of Robinson attended, and posed for pictures with the monument. Robinson’s granddaughter, Carver Boynton of Birmingham, said her grandmother always encouraged people to take up their own battles for civil rights.
“One of the things that my grandmother always said that people know her for is ‘Get off my shoulders,’” Boynton said. “And what she means by that is she wants us all to move forward in our own activism and in our own creation of equality and equity for one another.”
The statues were unveiled after a program that included a slide show narrated by the sculptor, Clydetta Fulmer, who explained step-by-step how the busts were created. Fulmer was also the sculptor of the Rosa Parks statue on Montgomery’s Court Square and of the statue of Revolutionary War General Richard Montgomery in the capital city.
Fulmer said she remembers visiting Archives & History as a child, a traditional field trip for Alabama elementary school students. She said she remembers being amazed by the marble hallways, artifacts, portraits and displays.
“I would not have thought that it was possible that my work would one day be a part of this institution,” Fulmer said. “And I hope that these sculptures that are being unveiled today will inspire all who see them with the sense of their own possibilities. “
The statues unveiled today are the first added to Statuary Hall since memorials to Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver in the early 1990s. Others memorialized in Statuary Hall are Robert Lee Bullard, Braxton Braggs Comer, Richmond Pearson Hobson, and Joseph Wheeler.