WeWalk: Behind the Scenes of Opening the Way

Opening the Way is a walking tour celebrating women's history in downtown Manhattan. It is a multifaceted new project developed by the award-winning nonprofit organization Women's eNews. The walk honors the achievements of women such as Margaret Sanger, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Ida B. Wells -- 21 women in all. This blog has been created to update fans of the walk on its exciting developments and expansion. Please join us in revitalizing history that has been ignored or forgotten!

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Story Behind Elizabeth Jennings Place

Elizabeth Jennings Place on the Opening the Way Walking Tour
Most Americans are taught at some point about Rosa Parks, the woman who brought a fierce beginning to the civil rights movement in Montgomery, Alabama on December 1, 1955, by refusing to abide to a demand that she give up her seat for a white passenger.

But much other history is lost, and very few people learn about women like Elizabeth Jennings Graham, who actually challenged the idea of segregation on public transit here in New York City just over 100 years before Rosa Parks' historic moment.

In fact, the sign "Elizabeth Jennings Place" was put up only a few years ago, and the story behind it is heartwarming. After finding out about Elizabeth Jennings in preparation for a performance on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a group of third- and fourth-grade students at P.S. 361 on the Lower East Side took the initiative in 2007 to get her name immortalized at the corner of Spruce Street and Park Row. After a year of attending meetings, gathering petition signatures, and pressuring elected officials, they were able to get a street sign named for her -- a feat that had been unsuccessful by another group of students in the 1990s. "She's an unknown hero that helped our state," said student Timothy Allan. "We actually took a stand in the world for what we thought was right," said another.

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