An inspirational woman who once
sojourned Americas roadways promoting the value of equal rights and humane treatment
for all will soon watch over the highway dedicated to her legacy.
already seemed larger than life to Americans of her day as she championed the rights of
former slaves, equality for women and humane treatment for the poor. But when her monument
is completed in Monument Park in fall 1999, there will be a twice, life-sized figure of
the heroine along the Sojourner Truth Downtown Memorial Parkway.
Battle Creek officials are working with the newly formed Sojourner Truth Institute of
Battle Creek and several other community organizations to finalize preparations for the
monument, which will be located at the intersection of the parkway and Main Street .
The completed bronze sculpture is expected to weigh more than 3,000 pounds and cost
approximately $602,000 to develop, sculpt and transport. The cost includes the engineering
and construction of a stone base, amphitheater and the landscaping around the monument. An
additional $150,000 will be raised to fund educational programs and operational expenses
related to the project.
"Battle Creek is the perfect place for such a tribute," said Velma Clay,
Sojourner Truth committee chair. "It will remind the world that her body may be
buried here but her spirit still sojourns among us in the hearts of those who love
freedom, equality and compassion for all people."
Keeping the message of Battle Creek's famous civil rights activist alive remains and
integral part of commemoration efforts to build upon last year's 200th anniversary
celebration of the birth of Sojourner Truth. She lived the last 26 years of her life
from 1857 to Nov. 26, 1883 in Battle Creek and is buried in the historic Oak
Hill Cemetery. Her life story continues to inspire Michigan residents who honored her in
1983 with induction into the Women's Hall of Fame in Lansing.
Bertha Cheatham, the liaison for the National Association of Negro Business and
Professional Women national president, Dr. Julianne Malveaux, and representative of the
Battle Creek NANBPW Club, said the monument project will be a great tribute to Sojourner
"The NANBPW for 63 years has kept the memory of Sojourner Truth alive nationally
and internationally," she said. "It has been a five year struggle but were
finally seeing the monument project become a reality."
The sculpture is being completed by internationally renowned sculptor, Tina Allen, who
recently completed a 12-foot statue of author Alex Haley in Knoxville, Tenn. Allen is very
experienced at capturing the spirit of great African and African American leaders and will
use her impressive talents to preserve the legacy of Sojourner Truth. Battle Creek city
engineer Gregory Zanotti said it has been exciting working with Allen on the monument
project over the past year. The monument project will add to the existing downtown sites
currently enhancing the citys image: the newest of which is Kellogg's Cereal City
"Its estimated that as many as 400,000 people may visit the new facility
each year," Zanotti said, "and the first thing theyll see as they come
into the city off the Sojourner Truth Downtown Parkway is the Sojourner Truth
The City of Battle Creek and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation have each contributed $200,000
toward the monument project. Another $102,000 has been received from the Michigan Council
for the Arts and Cultural Affairs. The remaining $250,000 will be sought through public
"Sojourner Truth's legacy is important to Battle Creek and the nation," said
Jack Howell, executive director for Cereal City Development Corporation. "Her
convictions and strength left their mark on this country and this community."
"This project is part of an overall effort to highlight history and art in Battle
Creek. This includes the construction of Kellogg's Cereal City U.S.A., the Underground
Railroad Sculpture and Mill Race Park, all of which embrace Battle Creek's rich heritage,
Howell said ."
Establishing a place where people can readily find Truths image was one of the
desires Truth supporters heard repeatedly from citizens during the bicentennial
celebration, according to Michael D. Evans, administrator for the Sojourner Truth
Institute of Battle Creek.
"The monument will show the power and majesty of this woman," Evans said.
"It is also going to be an important step toward making Battle Creek more widely
known as the curator and keeper of Sojourner Truth history."
The project will also be an important part of the ongoing educational programs the
Sojourner Truth Institute will maintain to keep alive the interest sparked by the
The Sojourner Truth Institute, Sojourner Truth Commemoration Committee, the NANBPW and
the many partners who are working to make this project possible hope the monument will
continue to inspire future generations with Truth's example.
Though born into slavery in 1797, Truth freed herself and later made her way to
Michigan where she worked with Quaker abolitionists to help free others. She was an
important figure of the suffrage movement and continued to speak for equality for all
people until her death.
The Sojourner Truth Monument project is a wonderful opportunity for the Battle Creek
community and will stand as a lasting tribute to one of this city's greatest citizens.