Amid 100 Statues at Capitol, She's the 11th Woman

Statue of Kansas-born aviator Amelia Earhart unveiled at US Capitol's Statuary Hall
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 28, 2022 9:36 AM CDT
Amid 100 Statues at Capitol, She's the 11th Woman
Kansas Governor Laura Kelly, center, is joined by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, center left, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, far left, and former Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran, center right, for the unveiling ceremony of a statue in honor of Amelia Earhart at the Capitol on Wednesday.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

A statue of Amelia Earhart—the famed aviator who became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic in 1932—was unveiled at the US Capitol on Wednesday, where it will serve as "an inspiration for all," said Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly. The 7-foot-tall bronze statue is one of two representing Kansas in the Capitol's Statuary Hall Collection, which includes sculptures representing two figures from each of the 50 states, per NPR. This one was a long time coming. The Kansas State Legislature voted in 1999 to replace a statue of former Kansas Gov. George Washington Glick with one of 34th US president Dwight D. Eisenhower and a statue of former Sen. John James Ingalls with one of Earhart.

The monument to Eisenhower was erected in 2003, but funding for the $175,000 statue of Earhart took awhile, per the Washington Post. The Kansas-born aviator is just the 11th woman in the collection of 100 figures. Earhart's great-nephew, Bram Kleppner, says he hopes the statue teaches people about the aviator's lesser known work toward gender equality, including lobbying President Herbert Hoover for an Equal Rights Amendment, per the Post. The outlet notes Earhart was also a professor, writer, nurse, social worker, truck driver, and fashion designer. "Her dreams went … far beyond the prescribed gender roles of her time," Kelly said at Wednesday’s dedication and unveiling ceremony, per NPR.

The outlet reports "the gathered crowd cheered and woo-hoo'd when the black drape was dramatically removed from the figure," crafted by George and Mark Lundeen of Colorado, which resembles this photo of Earhart standing in front of the plane in which she would disappear in 1937. She's wearing a flight jacket and scarf and holding a flying cap and goggles. "Let it be an inspiration for all, particularly our young girls, for generations to come," Kelly said. "Let them stare up at this work of art and think that they, like Amelia, can dream the impossible dream." Earlier this month, Florida unveiled its statue of civil rights leader Mary McLeod Bethune, the first Black person to represent a state in the collection. (More Amelia Earhart stories.)

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