Nearly a hundred people gathered at the Sojourner Truth statue in Florence, MA, last Sunday, May 24, to celebrate Sojourner Truth’s legacy in the local community.
The beautiful afternoon started with a tour of the African American Heritage Trail, led by committee member Wendy Sinton, during which tour participants learned of the history of early industry in Florence, the formation of the Northampton Association of Education and Industry, and how Sojourner Truth lived and worked in the town.
The celebration opened with a performance by vocalist Gloria DeLayne Matlock, from Greenfield, which was followed by remembrances for those who–though not with us in body–were with us in spirit.
The powerful keynote address was delivered by Dr. Jacquelyn Smith-Crooks, an educational consultant, minister, and co-host of the radio program “Black in the Valley.”
The afternoon’s events were highlighted by addresses by the two recipients of the Sojourner Truth Scholarship for Social Justice, Sajo Jefferson, of Amherst Regional High School, and Katelyn Parzych, of Easthampton High School. Sajo, who will attend Pomona College this fall, is a committed anti-racism activist, who has organized many anti-racism events in her local community, including a walk-out at Amherst Regional High School; is editing and publishing a student newsletter about issues of injustice; and is involved in a group called Freedom Readers, which reads and discusses works about injustice. Katelyn, who plans to attend the University of Connecticut, has dedicated herself to helping others, through rallying her community to send holiday greetings to hospitalized veterans, fundraising for Students Against Destructive Decisions, and volunteering for Special Olympics. Both young women reflected on the paths that led them to promote the cause of social justice and their commitment to following in Sojourner Truth’s footsteps.
Thank you to all who came out to show their support for Sojourner Truth, the scholarship recipients, and the work that our committee does to ensure that Truth’s legacy will never be forgotten.