The site for the Sojourner Truth memorial statue is a former small city park at the corner of Pine and Park Streets in Florence. The city donated the site for the statue in November 2001.
The idea for a memorial statue that would honor Sojourner Truth was the first project of the Sojourner Truth Memorial Statue Committee. From 1993-2002, the committee successfully campaigned and raised money for the installation of a Sojourner Truth statue in Florence to honor her legacy. The statue was unveiled on Sunday, October 6, 2002.
The project received a major boost in 1997 when the Massachusetts Legislature awarded it a $100,000 matching grant under the Massachusetts Monument Grants program. Other major gifts were received from Florence Savings Bank, Smith College, the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, and an anonymous donor. A penny collection, begun by the Unitarian Society of Northampton & Florence in the fall of 1998, grew by spring 2000 to include more than 50 collection sites in western Massachusetts and eight other states. As a result of the community’s generosity, more than $7,000 was raised by this grassroots campaign.
On April 1, 2001, Thomas Jay Warren was selected to create the statue of Sojourner Truth. Warren was born in Mississippi in 1958, and studied sculpture as a Presidential scholar at Mississippi College, graduating with special distinction in 1979. He has received many commissions and awards.
Denig Design Associates of Northampton designed the memorial site. The statue stands on a granite pedestal, set in a central terrace framed by granite seatwalls, which are surrounded by a lush garden. Three informational plaques about Sojourner Truth and the Northampton Association of Education and Industry, of which she was a part, are placed throughout the site.
Landscaping was completed in the summer of 2003 by volunteers, including students from Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School, with plants that were donated by local stores and nurseries.
Honoring Truth: The Sojourner Statue Story, edited by Peter Ives, tells the story of the 10-year community effort to erect the statue. The book is available for purchase from Levellers Press; all proceeds will support the committee’s continuing efforts to honor Truth’s legacy.