Yesterday Arrives in Irvington

by The Irvington Historical Society

By Barrett Seaman

She arrived on the back of a giant flatbed truck with its own forklift that was needed to lower her to the pavement and lift her onto a newly installed base, between Village Hall and the Main Street School, just up the hill from where a statue of Rip Van Winkle lounges on the lawn.

As a worker maneuvers the sculpture, fastened to a marble slab, onto its moorings, sculptor Vinnie Bagwell (at far left, dressed in white) looks on.

She is Yesterday, a bronze sculpture set in marble mined in Minnesota. She is a depiction of a young African girl who was once enslaved by local farmers, sculpted by artist Vinnie Bagwell.  Her existence and the history of enslavement in the Rivertowns came to light through the research of Sarah Cox and Cathy Sears of Irvington, whose work appeared in The Roost in 2019 (“Our Town and Slavery,” The Roost, Vol. 20, Issue 1 (The Irvington Historical Society Winter 2019).  Copies of The Roost are available here

Holding the plaque that will be affixed to the brick wall beneath the sculpture are Sarah Cox (in red) and Cathy Sears, whose original research included discovery of a previously unmarked grave for enslaved Africans

The two researchers successfully lobbied the Irvington Union Free School District Board of Trustees to agree to placing the work on the Main Street School campus near the village center, not far from the newly named Madam C.J. Walker Plaza at the foot of Village Hall.

An official installation ceremony is scheduled for 11:00 a.m. on June 10th.