Who was Sophie Wright? She has a school named for her on Napoleon Avenue.
There is also a statue of this outstanding educator. Designed by artist Enrique Alferez, it is located in Sophie Wright Park on Magazine Street at the corner of Sophie B. Wright Place.
And she deserves all the recognition she has gotten.
Wright was born into a poor New Orleans family in 1866. As a toddler, she suffered a fall that caused her to spend her life in a steel brace, walking with crutches. At only 15 years old, Wright opened her own school, the Day School for Girls. By 1885, she added boarding facilities and renamed the school the Home Institute, which acquired a reputation as one of the best private schools in New Orleans.
About the same time, Wright was asked if she could teach poor men and boys. She soon opened a free night school for men and boys employed during the day but still too poor to pay for school.
Wright also was active in other areas, serving on the Prison Reform Association and the Woman's Christian Temperance Union. She also worked to help poor children and women by establishing public playgrounds and baths.
In 1903, The Daily Picayune awarded Sophie Wright its prestigious prize, the Loving Cup, for outstanding social activism and philanthropy; she was the first woman to receive this honor. Wright became so well known and respected that The Monitor, a newspaper in Boston, had a story in 1909 about her achievements. In it she was called the "best citizen of New Orleans."
When Wright died on June 6, 1912, she was buried in Metairie Cemetery, and The Daily Picayune praised her as a "saint of the commonweal."