By TONIA HILL
Georgiana Simpson is being honored nearly 100 years after she became the first African-American woman to receive a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago (U. of C.).
The “Unveiling Ceremony of the Dr. Georgiana R. Simpson Bronze Bust” will take place at 6 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 28, on U. of C.’s campus in Mandel Hall, 5706 S. University Ave. The bust in honor of Simpson is believed to be the first public monument to honor a historically significant woman in the City of Chicago.
Asya Akca and Shae Omonijo, two undergraduate students at the U. of C., have been working on the effort to honor Simpson.
The two students, learned of Simpson’s achievements and struggles while researching the history of housing at the university, they launched a campaign, the Monumental Woman’s Project (MWP), to raise funds for the bust.
MWP is dedicated to honoring influential women’s accomplishments.
“Dr. Georgiana Rose Simpson’s (AB 1911, AM’20 Ph.D. ’21) life and scholarship have paved the way for women, especially women of color, across all academic disciplines,” said MWP in a written statement.
The bust will be situated in front of Mandel Hall in the Reynolds Club, 1131 E 57th St., an area once reserved for male students.
Simpson was a scholar in the field of German philology. She first enrolled at the university in 1907 and was awarded a bachelor’s degree in 1911. She experienced significant racism both during and after her time at the school. What interested Akca and Omonijo however, was the lack of presence of images of women on the campus, according to a previous article in the Herald.
Local artist Preston Jackson, professor emeritus of sculpture at the School of the Art Institute, was commissioned to create the bust.
He works primarily in bronze, and his work is known for its social significance and emphasis on the multicultural experience of life in Chicago and his concern for “those for whom social acceptance is difficult,” according to his website.