Final touches to Sojourner Truth Legacy Plaza take shape as May 29 grand opening nears

Apr 22, 2024

Local artists to be featured at site honoring the abolitionist and women’s rights activist

Final preparations are underway for the grand opening of the Sojourner Truth Legacy Plaza on the 173rd anniversary of the abolitionist and women’s rights activist’s “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech at the 1851 Ohio Women’s Convention. The Plaza, located at United Way of Summit & Medina’s Downtown Akron offices on the spot where Truth gave her historic speech, will officially open to the public on May 29.

The Plaza was designed by landscape architect Dion Harris of Summit Metro Parks, with construction management done by The Ruhlin Company. At its center, it will feature a life-sized sculpture of Sojourner Truth by nationally renowned Akron native sculptor Woodrow Nash.

Additional preparations, led by United Way of Summit & Medina and the Sojourner Truth Project Committee, are underway to enhance the nearly completed space.

A mural by local artist Derin Fletcher was selected to be featured in the Plaza. Fletcher’s artwork, inspired by a famous 1864 photograph of Truth, focuses on an aspect that Fletcher says often goes unnoticed in a figure known primarily for her immense strength of character. “Her glasses, her knitting yarn/needle and head wrap really stuck out to me,” wrote Fletcher in a description accompanying her submission, “because, though she wore many hats, those features reminded me that she was human.”

“In a perfect world, she should have had the opportunity to be that soft woman who could sit back in her glasses knitting without a care,” wrote Fletcher. Instead, Truth’s strength paved a path for the generations that came after her.

Fletcher’s mural will occupy the southeast wall of the Plaza, alongside a metal sculpture of an impala lily – the national flower of Truth’s ancestral homeland of Ghana – designed by Alexandria Couch.

“Sojourner Truth has been a beacon of hope to millions of people, and we want to ensure that the plaza that bears her name will educate and inspire,” said Jim Mullen, president and CEO of United Way of Summit & Medina. “We are grateful to the many local leaders and generous sponsors that have helped make this Plaza not just a reality, but an immense source of pride for the people of our community.”

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