Columbia City of Women: Putting Women on the Map

Columbia City of Women launch

Historic Columbia and WREN (Women’s Rights & Empowerment Network) launched the Columbia City of Women initiative on Sunday, March 31—the last day of Women’s History Month. The event, held at the Columbia Museum of Art, included the announcement of 12 influential women honorees that will be celebrated in the next year. 

This project began locally with former S.C. First Lady Rachel Hodges, who was inspired by a gift from her son—the original City of Women map by Rebecca Solnit. Hodges realized that the only street named for a woman in Columbia is Lady Street, which erases the name of the woman who inspired it: Martha Washington.

“Columbia City of Women is about building up, not tearing down. This initiative will add women to the landscape of our city. This map will bring awareness and sing praises of the extraordinary women who have stood along with men to shape this community—our community—for the future.”
—Rachel Hodges

The current goal of this initiative is to celebrate Columbia’s remarkable women, specifically 12 women—one for each month of the coming year, beginning this April. Through social media, special events and later a reimagined map of the city, Historic Columbia and WREN hope to raise awareness for these women, connect through their stories and encourage Columbia’s women to empower one another.   

The honoree for April is Lilly Stern Filler, M.D. The daughter of Holocaust survivors, Filler created the committee that installed the South Carolina Holocaust Memorial in 2001. Her unwavering commitment to educating South Carolinians about the Holocaust ensures that future generations never forget history’s largest genocide. As a physician, Filler has also championed female physicians, women’s health and continuously worked to provide accessible healthcare options for them.

Other honorees include Lucy Hampton Bostick, Matilda Evans, Sarah Mae Flemming, Harriet Hancock, Sarah Elizabeth Leverette, the Rollin Sisters, Celia Dial Saxon, Modjeska Monteith Simkins, Dawn Staley, Anna Heyward Taylor and Jean Hoefer Toal. To keep up with this initiative and learn more about these inspirational women, follow Historic Columbia and WREN on social media, as well as the hashtags #ColumbiaCityofWomen and #SheDid.

Header image: (From left to right) Honorees Lilly Filler, Harriet Hancock and Jean Toal stand alongside Dr. Henrie Monteith Treadwell, the neice of honoree Modjeska Monteith Simkins. Photo courtesy of Molly Harrell