Mar 23, 2023 - Politics

Women's suffrage leader Munds to be honored with Bolin Plaza statue

A side view of a bronze statue of a woman holding a flagpole in her right hand and a piece of paper in her left hand.

Stephanie Hunter's statue of suffragist leader Frances Willard Munds. Photo: Courtesy of the Arizona Women's History Alliance.

The Arizona Women's History Alliance wants to put up a statue of suffragist leader Frances Willard Munds at Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza, which would be one of the few such monuments to women from the state's history.

State of play: The statue of Munds, created by local artist Stephanie Hunter, is completed and awaits a new home.

  • The alliance needs to raise about $60,000 to reach its $280,000 goal, according to their website.
  • It will also meet soon with the Legislative Council and the Arizona Department of Administration to determine the exact site for the statue.

What's next: Melanie Sturgeon, president of the alliance's board of directors, said they'd hoped to have the statue up by Nov. 5, the anniversary of women winning the right to vote in Arizona, but the process has taken longer than expected.

  • Legislative Council executive director Mike Braun said they'll get a green light to proceed once fundraising is complete.

Flashback: Munds was a leader in the fight for women's suffrage in Arizona.

  • After statehood in 1912, she became president of the Arizona Equal Suffrage Association and led the campaign to put a women's suffrage measure on the ballot, which voters overwhelmingly approved.
  • Arizona granted women the right to vote eight years before the ratification of the 19th Amendment did the same nationwide, which, Sturgeon said, "might not sound like much, but these women didn't sit still. They got a lot of legislation through and they were able to help with a lot of changes."
  • Munds became one of Arizona's first two female legislators in 1914 when she was elected to represent Yavapai County in the Senate.

What they're saying: "I would say 95% of the people in Arizona have no idea who Frances Willard Munds is," Sturgeon told Axios Phoenix.

  • She added that Munds deserves the honor of a statue "because she was the one that really understood about building coalitions and that sort of thing."

Why it matters: There are few statues of women in Arizona and fewer still of individuals.

  • The only monuments of individual women Sturgeon was aware of include Sandra Day O'Connor in the federal courthouse named after her in downtown Phoenix and Sedona Schnebly, after whom the town of Sedona is named.
  • Other statues of women are intended to represent broader groups, such as the monument to Arizona pioneer women in Bolin Plaza and the Madonna of the Trail statue in Springerville.
  • Only 6% of American monuments feature real women as their subjects, Axios' Chelsea Brasted reported.

You tell us: Which Arizona women do you believe should be honored with statues?

  • We'll follow up next week with a story on the recommendations from readers and historians.
  • The Arizona Women's Hall of Fame features many of the most notable women in our state's history.
  • If there are statues of notable women in Arizona history, please let us know so we can give them their due!

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