The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library says of her:
Riding the crest of the neoclassical revival in the 1870's, sculptress Edmonia Lewis attracted wide notice in a field generally dominated by men. She was, in fact, the first African American sculptor to achieve international distinction.See some of her sculptures in this Smithsonian online exhibition: Cleopatra Lost & Found. ("Cleopatra" currently is displayed on the second floor of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, where we snuck this cell phone photo).
Cleopatra's story is told in Smithsonian magazine, September 1996: The Object at Hand:
The circuitous route of Edmonia Lewis' masterwork, a controversial portrayal of Cleopatra at the moment of death, included stints as decor in a Chicago saloon and as a grave marker for a racehorseAnother lost Lewis sculpture, "Veiled Bride of Spring", was found a few years ago in a public library in Kentucky (check your attic - you never know!).
UPDATE: See article "City of Rensselaer Awarded “Honor Roll of Abolitionists” on the last page of this PDF file of the Sept. 2007 The Informed Constituent.