The Speaker’s Stand
A lectern compels interaction, evokes public speech and inspires engagement. Members of the public will question the unlikely presence of an intricately designed lectern on the sidewalk. They might also stand at it to imagine what it would mean to deliver a speech to strangers passing by; a small window into the enormity of Abby Kelley Foster’s acts of revolution, bravery and humanity. Some visitors might even use the lectern as any lectern should be used, and deliver a speech of their own.On top of the lectern visitors will discover a page inscribed with a quotation, as if left there by a previous speaker. The excerpt is from a speech Foster delivered on October 16, 1851 to the Second National Woman’s Rights Convention held in Worcester’s Brinley Hall, near where the sculpture is installed:
I did not rise to make a speech — my life has been my speech. For fourteen years I have advocated this cause by my daily life. Bloody feet, sisters, have worn smooth the path by which you have come hither.
Visitors will also find blank pieces of paper and a steel-tip dip pen to reinforce the theme of using one’s voice to stand up for social change, and to illuminate some measure of the courage required to deliver public speeches, especially for women of Abby Kelley Foster’s era.The sides of the lectern are perforated with facsimiles of words taken from Abby Kelley Foster’s handwritten letters. The panel surfaces are also engraved with pictures, quotes and other text related to the abolitionist and suffrage movements and to Abby Kelley Foster’s biography.
Media and dimensions: Cast and fabricated stainless steel, granite base, internal light fixture. 48″ x 30″ x 28″
Collection/Commission: City Of Worcester
Photo Credits: Troy Thompson
Mass Live, 6.15.21