Sojourner Truth Legacy Plaza to open with public celebration on May 29

May 13, 2024

The public is invited to attend the dedication of the Sojourner Truth Legacy Plaza and Statue on May 29, the 173rd anniversary of Truth’s “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech to the Ohio Women’s Convention in Akron. The new landmark is located at United Way of Summit & Medina’s offices at 37 N. High Street, adjacent to the site of the Old Stone Church where Truth gave her historic speech on May 29, 1851.

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.

The Sojourner Truth Legacy Plaza was conceived by the Summit Suffrage Centennial Committee. The committee was convened by Summit County Executive Ilene Shapiro in 2018 with the goal of identifying a single project to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of women’s suffrage in 2020.  Following that direction, the group turned its attention to honoring the legacy of abolitionist and women’s rights activist Sojourner Truth.

United Way of Summit & Medina contributed a portion of its property for the Plaza and became the project’s largest funder, providing more than $1 million toward its completion. Additional funding has come from other local and national organizations and individual donors from across the country. A full list of sponsors is available here.

“The dedication event is the culmination of five years of the committee’s grassroots fundraising – from the first dollar to nearly $1 million – as well as planning and educating the community about Sojourner Truth’s life and her historic Akron speech,” said Towanda Mullins, chair of the Sojourner Truth Project. “We are bringing Truth’s message of women’s rights and the rights of all people into the public sphere at a time when these rights are being marginalized. I am confident the plaza will become a sacred space for reflection and understanding.”

Welcoming remarks will begin at 5:30 p.m., followed by a ribbon cutting and the public unveiling of the statue. More information is available here. Following the ceremony, attendees are invited to stay for a celebration on N. High Street, which will be closed for the event. The festivities will include live music, food trucks, free screenings at The Nightlight Cinema and more.

“We are incredibly grateful to the many, many people who worked countless hours to make this, Akron’s newest landmark, a reality,“ said Jim Mullen, president and CEO of United Way of Summit & Medina. “Sojourner Truth, through her courage and the power of her voice, made a mark on history. It is our responsibility to ensure that her message is not just remembered, but honored through action, as we work to build a future that delivers to all the justice and dignity she fought for.”

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