Mar 13, 2023 - News

Statues honoring women in Atlanta are hard to find

A statue of Xernora Clayton

A new statue of Xernora Clayton was unveiled last week in Atlanta. Credit: Thomas Wheatley/Axios

Atlanta has many examples of women who changed the city, country, or even the world. But you'd be hard-pressed to find statues paying them their honor.

Driving the news: Data from Monument Lab finding a woefully low number of statues honoring women across the country, plus the recent unveiling of Xernona Clayton's statue last week, got us thinking about how the city and state pays tribute to notable Georgia women.

Why it matters: Clayton's statue — the first of a Black woman in a downtown business district in the country, per a project official — represents a small, yet important step in getting more women enshrined the same way men and their personas have been cemented for decades.

What they're saying: "They're all white women," Amy Durrell, a historian with History Afoot Atlanta, tells Axios of the statues of women around Atlanta today. "They're all elite and they're all women who are being celebrated for their roles as wives and mothers."

  • Statues of women that were erected earlier in Atlanta's history include that of Elizabeth Brown, the wife of former Gov. Joseph E. Brown, and Asa Candler's mother, Martha.
  • While the statue of former City Council member Barbara Asher at Marietta and Broad streets shows her appearing confident, its inscription still stresses her role as a wife and mother, Durrell told the AJC.

Worth noting: An art installation unveiled in 2021 included life-sized Bronze sculptures of Dorothy Bolden, a domestic workers labor organizer, and civil rights activist Rita Samuels.

State of play: Keith Strigaro, director of communications for the Georgia Historical Society, told Axios the organization has seen an increase in the number of applications for historical markers about women in the last several years.

Zoom out: According to Monument Lab, across the country, there are 22 sculptures of mermaids, while only 21 honor abolitionist Harriet Tubman, Axios' Chelsea Brasted writes. Of the top 50 historical figures represented in Monument Lab data, only three are women, and only five are Black or Indigenous. Half are people who enslaved others.

  • Only one woman is featured in more sculptures than Tubman, according to the Monument Lab audit: Joan of Arc, the patron saint of France who became popular here when her image became a symbol of the Allies in World War I. She died more than three centuries before the founding of the United States.
  • Only 6% of American monuments feature real women as their subjects, according to research by Sierra Rooney, assistant professor of art history at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.
  • Only 32% of monuments to women are figurative.

Go deeper: Explore Monument Lab's interactive map

Make sure your local monuments are represented on, which Mobley calls the fastest way to ensure researchers know they exist.


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