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Posts Tagged ‘Sophie Bell Wright’

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for the Slice of Life Challenge.

This summer after our Father’s Day lunch, a stroll in the lower garden district of New Orleans with my daughters led me to Sophie Bell Wright. When I saw what seemed to be a random statue of a woman, I paused.  Curiosity got the best of me, so I walked across the street and through the tall grass to see this statue.  A woman?  Who is she?

In this season of southern statues causing uprisings, Sophie Bell Wright sits unguarded and untouched, practically hidden from public view.  When I got close enough to read the plaque, I saw that she was a teacher.  I had to know more.

 

My research led me to Know Louisiana, a website curated by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities.  I have supported this organization for years, but didn’t know about this site for historical documents.  This primary source newspaper article was there.  Click on the image to go to the article.

Sophie B. Wright only lived for 46 years. In those years she struggled with a disability and rose above poverty to create a public day school for girls and a night school for boys who had to work during the day.  In 1904 she established the first school for disabled orphans. In her spare time, Sophie Wright worked for prison reform, public playgrounds, and as president of the Woman’s Club.

I saw a Tweet from a friend about a NY Times article by Julia Baird entitled Why We Should Put Women on Pedestals.  While this article speaks of a statue of Queen Victoria in Quebec that was damaged by vandals, it inspired me to look back at the photo I took this summer. In the process, I found the story of Sophie B. Wright.  This amazing woman should be recognized for her strength and courage during post Civil War New Orleans to face obstacles and persevere for education for all.  This is a statue that will continue to point us toward a deeper understanding of the purpose of statues and monuments: to inspire us to be better, do better, and know better.

 

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