By Reneé Ruwe & Ed McCarthy
PORT EWEN -
A remarkable day in history occurred in the town of Port Ewen recently as the first ever statue of a slave child was unveiled to a crowd of several hundred people. The statue is a representation of the dynamic evangelist abolitionist Sojourner Truth as a young child.
Thanks to the efforts to secure a grant for the project, assemblyman Kevin Cahill of Kingston lead the monumental project. The Call to Attention was led by Amadou Diallo along with drummers to open the ceremony. Followed by New Paltz artist Trina Green introduced her sculpture to the crowd at the unveiling ceremony. Sojourner Truth was a fearless revolutionary feminist.
Harriet Beecher Stowe is quoted as saying "I had never been conversant with anyone who had more of that silent and subtle power which we call personal presence than this woman."
Truth was born to slave parents who were owned by a wealthy Dutch family from Ulster County, New York. Her birth name is recorded as being Isabella Baumfries. She was born of African parents circa 1797 in Swartekill North of Rifton, New York. She recalls the harsh treatment she received from her various owners before her eventual emancipation. In 1826 Sojourner Truth escaped to freedom with her infant daughter. She is famous for being the first African American to win a court case against a white man and have her son returned to her.
She also championed the Women’s Rights Movement, far ahead of her time. Her most famous speech is "Ain’t I A Woman" delivered in 1851 at Ohio Women’s Rights Convention Akron Ohio. During the Civil War Sojourner helped to enlist Black troops for the cause.
Sojourner just recently became the first African American woman to be honored with a bust in the US Capitol and is an honoree in The National Women’s Hall of Fame.
To view this life size bronze statue, travel to the park located on Route 9W and Salem Street in Port Ewen.