There’s an old corner of Teachers College that you may not have yet visited. Tucked away on the second floor of Grace Dodge Hall, you’ll find the Tudor Room — a warm refuge with dark, storybook-like features that nod to both its style and name. 

Originally established in 1911 as a formal dining room, the space became a beloved home for portraits of some of TC’s most prolific community members — including TC’s founder Grace Dodge and now, as of this summer, Shirley Chisholm (M.A. ’52). 

Chisholm is remembered as the first Black woman elected to Congress and the first to seek a major party’s presidential nomination. In the vibrant painting, the TC alumna stands in her most classic pose: leading a crowd and sharing a peace sign high above her head — ready to take on challenges that others could not. 

“The intention behind the project was to use the power of artistic imagination to simultaneously invoke Congresswoman Chisholm’s dedication to public service, her commitment to peacemaking and justice, and her everlasting connection to Teachers College,” says the artist, TC alum Monben Mayon (M.A. ’23, Anthropology and Education). “It brings me joy to know that TC students, now and after I graduate, will get to see Chisholm's likeness in the historic Tudor Room and be reminded of her impactful legacy on Teachers College.” 

Embed from Getty Images

Mayon’s work was commissioned by the Myers Art Commission Award by Gottesman Libraries, which funded a piece of the artist’s choosing. Mayon also executed a book display, titled “Representations of Black Women in Twentieth Century United States,” for the College’s Everett Cafe. 

Mayon’s work is part of ongoing efforts to restore the Tudor Room. With an award from the Myers Foundation, restoration and refurbishment began in February 2021 and was completed in March 2022. A historic and architectural treasure, the Tudor Room is meant to facilitate art talks, special College gatherings, and leadership meetings.

“The Tudor Room’s ability to inspire meaningful conversation amid reflections on our history are critical to Teachers College itself,” said Jennifer Govan, Director of the Gottesman Libraries. “The restoration and recent addition of Chisholm’s portrait position the Tudor Room to keep welcoming our members for decades to come so that they may continue to find inspiration in their role at Teachers College and contributions toward the greater common good."

The partnership between TC and the Myers Foundations also serves to develop Gottesman Libraries’ art and art education collections, conserve artwork, and exhibit commissioned works. 

Nearly 50 years after Chisholm’s historic presidential run, her influence still reverberates across American politics and advocacy. Her fearless pursuit of greater equity and justice embodied Teachers College’s own values, and while her portrait is the most recent to join the Tudor Room, hers certainly won’t be the last as the College’s alumni, students and faculty continue to work in service of communities for true change.