Thanks to Councilwoman Jennifer Mossotti for promoting the creation of statues honoring women in Lexington-Fayette County. The proposal is long overdue.
I suggest that the woman most deserving of a statue is Madeline McDowell Breckinridge. Many of the things that Lexingtonians today take for granted were started in the first two decades of the 20th century by Breckinridge, the wife of the owner and editor of the Lexington Herald. Some of her accomplishments include the first school in Irishtown, kindergarten and vocational training in public schools, the Baby Health Service, the system of parks and playgrounds, a juvenile court system, child labor laws, and Associated Charities, the precursor to the United Way.
In addition to her work in civic reform, Breckinridge became the preeminent leader of the women’s suffrage movement in Kentucky. Largely through her efforts, the Kentucky General Assembly in 1920 ratified the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, giving women the right to vote.
After her death, her husband, Desha, noted that she “was the inspiring and dominant factor in all the Herald did for good.” Surely this great-granddaughter of Henry Clay deserves a statue.
Melba Porter Hay