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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and his Task Force on Women in Public Art want to build a statue honoring an African-American woman to replace the statue of songwriter Stephen Foster in Oakland.
The mayor’s office says there are very few monuments in Pittsburgh dedicated to the women leaders from the city’s history, and there are currently no African-American women honored in such a way. He wants that to change.
“As Mayor, I am excited and passionate about this project,” Mayor Bill Peduto said in a statement released Wednesday.
An online forum has been set up. It includes a list of prominent women from Pittsburgh’s history, researched and nominated by Pittsburgh historian Dr. Jessie B. Ramey. Visitors to the website can select one of the names already nominated or submit the name of another African American woman who made an impact on the city’s history for consideration. Community meetings will also be held to gather public input.
The Pittsburgh Art Commission voted late last year to recommend removing the 117-year-old statue of Foster. It is set to be removed from its current site in Schenley Park in April.
The statue has been criticized as demeaning because it includes a slave sitting at Foster’s feet, plucking a banjo. Others say it merely shows that Foster was inspired by black spirituals and other music.
The commission wants the city to move the statue to private property where it can be “properly contextualized.”