I might even have expressed something along those lines in a newspaper column I used to write.
After listening to further debate on the issue, I started to come around, even though I remained skeptical that the necessary funds for the memorial and statue could ever be scraped together.
And when the state legislature approved a $100,000 grant to cover half the cost of the project, I was even more skeptical about taking public funds for what should be a private undertaking, free of government involvement.
But as the forces behind the memorial gathered enthusiasm and strength, I had to concede I was wrong, right from the start. Admitting to error is one thing, but changing my mind completely is not something Iím often accused of doing, even in my domestic realm.
Almost simultaneously with the early discussion of a Sojourner Truth statue, I began to become more familiar with the utopian community that functioned in Florence in the 1840s. At the then Northampton Historical Society, I had heard British historian Christopher Clark discuss his book, "Communitarian Moment, the Radical Challenge of the Northampton Association." I also was reading William McFeelyís biography of Frederick Douglas, which made frequent reference to Douglasís many visits to meet with Northampton and Florence Abolitionists.
At the same time, Ann and I visited the statue and memorial in New Haven which was completed in 1992 and which commemorated the Amistad slave revolt. The Rev. Peter Ives of the First Churches had been involved in that effort and shown a film of how the New Haven community came to create such a memorial on the steps of City Hall.
Finally, serendipitously, a few years later, I got roped into being in a play about Sojourner Truth and the Northampton Association, written by a group of Mount Holyoke students, directed by Rena Down, an accomplished television writer and theater director, and performed several times over two weekends at Smith College. During the course of the rehearsals and the play I must have heard Sojournerís famous speech "Ainít I a Woman," recited more than 100 times, and it was always moving.
Add to this, the increasing interest in this period by the work of historians Paul Gaffney and Steve Strimmer of the Florence Association, and I was convinced of the necessity for a Sojourner Truth Memorial, even making small financial donations, while still dubious that it would even come to fruition.
But come to fruition it did, almost 10 years later, and what a celebratory event it was on that sun-splashed Sunday afternoon in early October.
Sculptor Thomas Jay Warren has produced a mesmerizing presence of Sojourner Truth, in just the right setting, hard by the Park Street home that she occupied in those long forgotten days.
I suspect this statue and memorial and the dogged work of those who have honored Sojourner Truth are destined to have a more profound educational impact about civil rights and the shame of slavery through the coming decades than any scholarship fund ever could.
Iím proud to have been wrong.
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