FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sojourner Truth Memorial Celebration in Northampton on May 28 to Award Scholarships and Unveil Women’s Suffrage Marker
Presented by the Sojourner Truth Memorial Committee and Suffrage100MA
NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (May 17, 2023) — The Sojourner Truth Memorial Committee (STMC) and Suffrage100MA will host the annual Sojourner Truth Memorial Celebration on Sunday, May 28, 2023 at 2pm at the Sojourner Truth Memorial Park in the village of Florence, Northampton. The STMC will present Social Justice Scholarships to local high school seniors. The event will also feature the unveiling of a new historic women’s suffrage marker honoring Sojourner Truth, one of five new Massachusetts marker sites on the National Votes for Women Trail. Northampton Mayor Gina-Louise Sciarra and other elected officials will provide brief remarks, and the Amherst Area Gospel Choir will perform. The event is free and open to the public!
Sojourner Truth (1797-1883) was an internationally known advocate for justice and equality between the races and sexes during the 19th century. She is honored in American history for her compelling autobiography, for her innumerable speeches against slavery and for women’s rights and for her work on behalf of freedmen after the Civil War. Truth lived in Florence (a village of Northampton) from 1844-1857, during which time she was a member of the Northampton Association of Education and Industry, a utopian community dedicated to equality and justice, and helped establish Florence as a center of antislavery resistance. For more background, visit the STMC website.
“After enduring slavery’s overwhelming trauma and injustices, Sojourner Truth’s impassioned voice called for total social and civic equality for all. She was a powerful voice for the abolition of slavery and for women’s suffrage, regardless of race or privilege,” said Carol Rinehart, STMC member. “These scholarship awards, our annual celebration, and now this new suffrage marker, all amplify Truth’s message, honor her influence on Northampton. They help keep our country’s civil rights history from being neglected, especially during these times when our democracy is being threatened.”
The Sojourner Truth Social Justice Scholarship Award aims to honor young people who carry her heritage forward in their own way. $1,500 scholarships will be awarded to select Hampshire and Hampden County public high school seniors who have been active in social justice efforts and plan to attend college or postsecondary school. Recipients of the Sojourner Truth Social Justice Awards will be asked to say a few words when the scholarships are presented at the annual celebration. 2023 Scholars: Kaz Andrews, Northampton High School; Dahlia Breslow, Northampton High School; Victor F. Cruz-Castro, Amherst Regional High School; La’Tasia Love, Springfield Central High School; Aria M. Norman-Gesuelle, Northampton High School; Ursa Sekou Shabazz, Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Public Charter School; Catherine Thompson, Springfield Central High School.
The Sojourner Truth women’s suffrage trail marker will be located at the intersection of Park Street and Pine Street in Florence, in close proximity to the home Truth once lived in and owned in the nineteenth century. The marker will celebrate Truth’s world-renowned suffrage and abolition work and encourage passers-by to learn more, and will become one of five new Massachusetts marker sites on the National Votes for Women Trail. The project is funded through a grant by the William G. Pomeroy Foundation®, sponsored by the National Collaborative for Women’s History Sites (NCWHS)’s National Votes for Women Trail (NVWT), and coordinated in Massachusetts by Suffrage100MA. The Sojourner Truth marker is one of five new Massachusetts markers being unveiled, including: Anne L. Page (Danvers, May 2022); Remond Family (Salem, June 2022); Sarah E. Wall (Worcester, October 2022); and Maria Baldwin (Cambridge, coming Fall 2023).
“We are grateful to the Sojourner Truth Memorial Committee and for the unanimous support of the Historic Commission and City Council, the hard work of the Department of Public Works, and to Suffrage100MA for helping bring this marker to life, and for highlighting our city’s essential role in the women’s suffrage movement,” shared Mayor Gina-Louise Sciarra.
“Our country is forever indebted to Sojourner Truth and other heroes of the abolition and women’s suffrage movement, who remind us of the hard-fought battles towards voting equity, and the imperative duty to protect our citizens’ voting rights today,” said Representative Lindsay Sabadosa.
“We are delighted to celebrate Sojourner Truth with one of five suffrage markers in Massachusetts highlighting the history of women’s suffrage in Massachusetts. Each marker honors the lives of those who bravely worked to advance women’s voting rights, with more than half of these markers dedicated to women and men of color,” said Suffrage100MA Founder & President Fredie Kay, the Massachusetts State Coordinator of the National Votes for Women Trail. “These markers are the result of more than two years of dedicated collaboration between municipal leadership, passionate community historians, Suffrage100MA, the Pomeroy Foundation, the NCWHS and NVWT.”
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About Sojourner Truth Memorial Committee
Since its establishment in 1992, the mission of the Sojourner Truth Memorial Committee (STMC) is to keep alive the legacy of Sojourner’s activism in Florence, Massachusetts for abolition of slavery, and equal citizenship rights for all, to honor Sojourner Truth as a symbol of the community’s desire to help eliminate racism and challenge oppression in our society, and to promote her significance in American history. The STMC extends educational outreach to schools with partnership grants, scholarship awards, and walking tours. They host an annual community celebration of her life every Memorial Day weekend. The STMC successfully campaigned and raised money for the installation of a Sojourner Truth statue in Florence, which was unveiled in 2002 at a memorial park owned and maintained by the City of Northampton. The STMC is a Suffrage100MA Partner. https://sojournertruthmemorial.org
Suffrage100MA is dedicated to commemorating the adoption of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1920, prohibiting the federal and state governments from denying citizens the right to vote on the basis of sex. Suffrage100MA presents events and activities that highlight the history of the women’s suffrage movement and women’s rights, notably the tireless work and essential contributions of women of color, who were often excluded by white women’s suffrage organizations, and whose role in the suffrage movement has been largely overlooked. In 2023, Suffrage100MA is transitioning to become an online Massachusetts Women’s History Center, with its flagship program, the Massachusetts Women’s Hall of Fame! Suffrage100MA is, and as the MWHC will continue to be, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit, non-partisan organization, with over 200 non-profit Partners. Learn more at Suffrage100MA.org.
The National Collaborative for Women’s History Sites is a non-profit organization established to support and promote the preservation and interpretation of sites and locales throughout the country that bear witness to women’s participation in American history. A project of NCWHS, the National Votes for Women Trail consists of a database with digital map, and a program of historic markers for over 200 suffragists/women’s suffrage sites. Visit: nvwt.org.
About the Pomeroy Foundation
The William G. Pomeroy Foundation® is committed to supporting the celebration and preservation of community history; and to raising awareness, supporting research and improving the quality of care for patients and their families who are facing a blood cancer diagnosis. Established by Trustee Bill Pomeroy in 2005 to bring together his two greatest passions, the Pomeroy Foundation is a private, grant-making organization located in Syracuse, N.Y. As the nation’s leading funder of historic roadside markers, the Pomeroy Foundation has awarded nearly 1,700 grants for markers and bronze plaques in 45 states. To learn more about the Pomeroy Foundation, visit wgpfoundation.org.