Amelia Earhart flies into Statuary Hall
After 11 years, Amelia Earhart is finally coming to the Capitol -- making her only the 10th woman to be featured in the historic Statuary Hall.
Each state is allowed two statues of famous citizens to be honored in the halls of Congress. In 1999, the Kansas state legislature voted to replace the existing statues of 19th-century statesmen with aviation pioneer Earhart and 34th president Dwight D. Eisenhower. Ike's statue was commissioned and placed in 2003, but Earhart's home town of Atchison had trouble raising money, and the plans were shelved.
Last fall, Lynette Long was touring the Capitol with her son and his girlfriend and noticed just how few women were depicted. Long, a psychologist with a private practice in Chevy Chase, was already upset about how few women are on stamps, coins and currency -- and unhappy to see a mere nine women in Statuary Hall. "I said to the tour guide, 'We're going to change this,'." Long told us.
That fateful tour led to the formation of Equal Visibility Everywhere (EVE), a nonpartisan organization dedicated to featuring more women on our nation's symbols and icons. "We send subliminal messages to young girls that say, you don't matter," she said. "Everybody cries about sexism that is blatant, but the sins of omission no one notices."
Long contacted the Atchison Chamber of Commerce and discovered that the proper documents for Earhart's statue had never been submitted to the Architect of the Capitol. After some lobbying, Kansas Gov. Mark Parkinson signed papers this month authorizing EVE to commission the design for Earhart's statue and raise the $300,000 needed to complete the design.
The statue -- which must be made of bronze or marble -- will stand 16 feet high, including the pedestal, and replace John James Ingalls, a Kansas senator in the 1870s and '80s.
Long estimated it will take three to four years to select a design and complete the statue; in the meanwhile, she's also raising money for a 40-foot Earhart balloon for parades: "I think she'll be popular."
The Reliable Source
August 27, 2010; 1:05 AM ET
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