In 1992, a group of Pioneer Valley citizens came together following the beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles to talk about how this community could further ideas of racial equality and justice for all citizens. They decided on two goals: to create a symbol of the community’s desire to help eliminate racism and challenge oppression in our society, and to honor Sojourner Truth as that symbol because she lived in Florence, MA, in the 19th century and her life work was to end racism and promote equality in our country. With the idea of creating a memorial statue to honor Sojourner Truth and her work, the Sojourner Truth Memorial Statue Committee was formed. From 1993–2000, the Statue Committee led a community-wide effort to increase awareness of the legacy of Sojourner Truth, culminating with the unveiling of the Sojourner Truth statue on Sunday, October 6, 2002.
Now the Sojourner Truth Memorial Committee, the group works to promote an understanding of Sojourner Truth’s significance in American history, through a variety of ways:
- We partner with area schools to bring Sojourner Truth’s inspirational life story into the classroom.
- We celebrate Sojourner Truth’s legacy at our annual celebration for the community, held on the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend.
- We grant scholarships to local high school students active in social justice efforts.
- We host an online walking tour of the African American Heritage Trail and promote awareness of the history of abolition and activism in Florence, Massachusetts, during the mid-1800s, during community tours, in collaboration with the David Ruggles Center.