(Source: Battle Creek Enquirer June 29, 1998)
The Sojourner Truth Monument Project is a collaborative effort representing the shared
vision of several organizations and individuals in the community inspired by a
research and development process that began in 1993 by the National Association of Negro
Business and Professional Women (NANBPW).
The goal of the project is to erect a 12 foot tall bronze statue of Sojourner Truth in
Monument Park, reflecting the collective community spirit and inspiration Truth gave the
residents of this city. The project will also include the construction of an amphitheater,
a base for the monument, a cascading water wall, lighting and other landscape features.
Since the project began efforts have been made to seek input from the community as well
as from local, regional and national experts. Early in the planning process, meetings were
held with representatives of the Historic District Commission, the Historical Society of
Battle Creek and local historians to enlist their support for the project. The results of
these efforts laid the foundation for continued development of the project.
Monument Park was selected as the most appropriate place for the project because of its
accessibility, its proximity to the Sojourner Truth Downtown Parkway, and the area's high
visibility to residents and visitors entering the city. The location also fits neatly into
the city's existing plans to renovate the park.
The artist, internationally renowned sculptor and painter, Tina Allen, was selected for
the project following a national search by the NANBPW and has visited Battle Creek on two
occasions to assist in the project's development.
(At right, the Johnson family and friends stand next
to the completed monument. This photograph gives an idea of the size of the monument and
tells a story. Families from all over the world will vist this monument in years to come.)
In 1997 a steering committee consisting of members of the Sojourner Truth Commemoration
Committee, (STCC) the Battle Creek club of the NANBPW, city officials, and representatives
of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation was formed to bring local leadership to the project and to
complete the project by September 1999.
Members of the steering committee have conducted several presentations throughout the
Battle Creek community at neighborhood planning councils, youth organizations, churches
and services groups to seek input on the project. During these presentations the committee
has informed hundreds of residents about the monument and has collected more than 200
surveys to help shape the direction of the project. More than 90 percent of the survey
respondents said they feel this project is very appropriate for Battle Creek. More than 80
percent indicated that they would be willing to contribute financially to the project.
The committee continues to actively engage the community in the development of this
project through public presentations, focus group meetings and the distribution of
||- Public fund drive to raise remaining $250,000 for project
||- Quarter-scale bronze maquette of the statue completed
Comprehensive educational effort for area schools and for the public implemented
||- Construction of monument site and landscape features
||- Monument dedicated in national ceremony
The Sojourner Truth Monument will be located at the end of the Sojourner Truth Downtown
Parkway within Monument Park, a newly renovated area dedicated to the unique history of
The monument's prominent location will present visitors with a dramatic representation
of this inspirational resident, framed by the First United Methodist Church and City Hall.
The monument's design is anchored by a 12 foot representational sculpture of Sojourner
Truth by internationally recognized sculptor Tina Allen. The sculpture will rest on a
slightly raised podium and will be enveloped by a curved, stone clad waterwall. Two bronze
plaques containing significant quotes from Sojourner Truth will flank the waterwall.
The waterwall's curved shape is echoed throughout the main plaza. A series of curved,
clad walls and highly detailed concrete freestanding columns will form an outdoor
"room" in which the sculpture will appear to be speaking. The floor of the room
will be paved with bricks laid in a continuous concentric pattern, further reinforcing the
amphitheater's curved lines.
Visitors will enter the monument via expansive amphitheater steps or a series of
integrated ramps that descend approximately one and one half feet below the upper walk
The opposite face of the waterwall will be covered in the same warm buff colored stone
as the "welcome" wall at the other end of the park. This face of the wall will
also include a 15 foot high waterfall, contained in a three-foot wide solid copper
channel. As the copper weathers, it will soften to a muted green patina. The water will
tumble into a basin where it recirculates through a buried pump vault. At the top of the
wall, cast in bronze letters will announce the name "Monument Park."
The color palette for the monument site was developed specifically to complement the
particular bronze chosen by Tina Allen for her sculpture. The bronze will have a golden
patina, reflected in the colors throughout the design. Muted warm buffs and tans will
serve as supporting elements and will enhance the tones of the sculpture.
Community contributions toward the project will be recorded on bronze recognition
plaques, housed in architectural concrete pedestals located along the main perimeter walk.
Another pedestal at the top center of the amphitheater steps will contain, on one face, a
bronze plaque with biographical information about Sojourner Truth. On the opposite face
another plaque will recognize major contributors to the park.
At night, the waterwall, waterfall and signage will be softly lit to serve as a
background for the sculpture.
The planting around the park will be predominantly low shrubs and groundcovers,
allowing unobstructed views while providing a lush green frame for the monument. Annual
flowers will add an inviting bit of color and will celebrate the spirit of the park, the
city and Sojourner Truth.
Monument Park will be an exciting addition to Battle Creek and will offer to visitors
and residents a fitting entry to the city.