Governor Hochul: “Her voice continues to inspire, to prod women, to push them to their best, to be their best self. And also, to make contributions to society, whether it's in the law or other professions, because all of us have a responsibility to understand her story, embrace that story as one of our fellow New York women, but also to make sure we all leave our own legacies, just as she did. So, she'll continue to be a beacon of hope, a reminder of our responsibilities, and make sure we continue to strive for a state and a nation that ensures just and equal treatment for all.”
Earlier today, Governor Kathy Hochul officially unveiled a carving of Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court and Brooklyn native Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the New York State Capitol’s Great Western Staircase.
AUDIO of the event is available here.
PHOTOS of the event will be available on the Governor's Flickr page.
A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:
What an extraordinary day here in our State Capitol. A day we've been waiting for for a considerable time to start recognizing that there are women in the State of New York, and a number of them are quite extraordinary, and the fact that there were no women when the initial carvings were done in this million-dollar staircase - they thought they fixed it back in 1898 and added six women and thought they were done now. They were wrong.
Today, we're going to continue celebrating the incredible contributions of New York women making history, and today, we celebrate with many of our friends. I'm proud to be here with our Commissioner, Jeanette Moy, who has done a great job shepherding this project through in the final months.
Here we have Jane Ginsburg and the Ginsburg family, Professor Ginsburg, and many family members, Claire and Ed Stiepleman, the sister-in-law, brother-in-law, family members are here. They journeyed here. We also have Meredith Bergmann, the sculptor, who we had a chance to connect with as they were doing sort of their practice work to ensure that this was done properly on this particular date.
I want to thank her and her family for being here as well. And Patrick Pigott, the artist who helped us with the renderings and others were involved in the sculpting. It was -what a great, great project this has been. A number of elected officials are joining us here. I just saw Assemblywoman Glick is behind us.
I don't have the full list. I saw Assemblymember Pat Fahy. What other elected officials am I missing? I don't want to miss anybody. Okay, strong women, my partners here in government in Albany. So, this is the day we talk about strong women, something everybody who makes it to these halls knows something about our assemblymembers, our senators, my partners.
But today we celebrate one woman in particular, a woman who has inspired an entire generation with T-shirts and “notorious RBG” and all the excitement and energy about the one and only Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She is one of New York's most revered daughters. She also made history with her Brooklyn toughness and the tenacity that was required to break through, not just glass ceilings. It seemed like she had to break through walls in order to achieve what she did and so many strikes against her starting out. She had to force her way through the doors in law firms and in courtrooms and all the work she had to do. And it was not an easy journey. And I'm really proud that what she struggled with and had to overcome and how she persevered was captured in movies and books so people could understand that ascending to the highest court in our nation was not an easy task for her, but she made it happen.
So, by force of her intellect and toughness that we love, she achieved history, not just to be the second woman appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States America, but also the first Jewish woman on the Supreme Court. Now, she also is a model for some of us who are raising kids while balancing careers.
The fact that Jane is here and obviously thriving. She survived with the support of a strong family. You know her mother's endeavors. But that certainly inspired Jane to be a preeminent professor at Columbia Law School today. So, her legacy continues even through her family. But for us, the legacy is one of a woman who had a managed the home front, a husband with illness, and try to break through so much.
And those of us who've had similar challenges and those who have even had had to endure more, take strength from this woman. That's why it was so important for me to have here in the Capitol and continued the legacy that was started before my tenure to have her in a place where women could walk down and pause for a moment and children can see and ask the questions like, “Why is she there? Who is this woman who did something so extraordinary that she, her image is emblazoned on this sandstone here in our Capitol?”
But also, one thing I will never forget when I had a chance to spend some time with Justice Ginsburg, she's a woman who kept her promises. What does that mean? Back in 2019, she journeyed to a place far, far away, known as Buffalo. She came to the law school. Now, what few people understood is that she showed up on a Monday after going through several days of chemotherapy. And the question is, why would she be at the Buffalo Law School on this date and at this time? One of her classmates from law school was a great friend of mine, Wayne Wisbaum, he had invited her to come, and she promised she would. But Wayne had passed during the year. Truly, she wouldn't have had to keep that promise, but she showed up and had a chance to tour the grounds and meet students and faculty and teach a class with Wayne's widow Janet.
And so, that to me was a testament of someone who was undergoing treatments for her own illness and was dead set that she was going to keep that promise to Wayne and Janet Wisbaum. So, she spent not just an afternoon or did her quick check of the box, she came and spent hours and hours and hours over several days, and when she spoke to the audience at night, this tiny person rose up.
We all understood why she was appointed to be that first person on the Supreme Court, and she made us all so very proud. And so, her carving is the first that is unveiled since the completion of what they call the Great Western Staircase over 125 years ago.
She'll now be the seventh woman. You may know some of them. Some of them happen to be the granddaughter of the architect. Nice to have connections in high places. So, she joins the likes of Clara Barton, Susan B. Anthony, and many others. And she talked about how those women inspired her. Susan B. Anthony, who she once noted helped keep dreams of equal citizenship alive in the days when few would listen.
Well, she was one we do listen to now. Her voice continues to inspire, to prod women, to push them to their best, to be their best self. And also, to make contributions to society, whether it's in the law or other professions, because all of us have a responsibility to understand her story, embrace that story as one of our fellow New York women, but also to make sure we all leave our own legacies, just as she did.
So, she'll continue to be a beacon of hope, a reminder of our responsibilities, and make sure we continue to strive for a state and a nation that ensures just and equal treatment for all. Ladies and gentlemen, it is a great pride I present you the daughter of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Professor Jane Ginsburg, who will talk about her mother.