Sojourner Truth statue unveiled at the Walkway Over the Hudson

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Sculptor Vinnie Bagwell with 7-foot-tall monument to Sojourner Truth. (Dorinda Angelucci)

POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Sculptor Vinnie Bagwell is installing a 7-foot-tall bronze sculpture of famed abolitionist and suffragette Sojourner Truth at the Welcome Center of the Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park in Poughkeepsie.

The installation process was scheduled to start at 8:30 a.m. and run until 5 p.m. This will be the statue’s permanent location, with the state’s Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation rolling out plans for dedication later in August.

Sculptor Vinnie Bagwell with 7-foot-tall monument to Sojourner Truth
Sculptor Vinnie Bagwell with 7-foot-tall monument to Sojourner Truth. (Dorinda Angelucci)

“The design is intended to provoke critical thinking, create a sense of place, and inform viewers that artistry is a powerful and useful tool of social transformation,” Bagwell says. “My hope is that visitors of this special place will be able to leave with the ability to appreciate and affirm the strength and beauty of ethnic, gender and cultural pluralism; and now—more than ever—feel a sense of responsibility for the future of liberty and freedom for all people.”

The monument captures Truth’s history by including images in the folds of her skirt of a young enslaved mother and child, a slavery sale sign, and a poster for a Women’s Suffrage March.

Truth was born Isabella Baumfree in what is now Rifton in Ulster County, sold three times, and escaped in 1826. She remained a prominent abolitionist and women’s rights advocate until she died in 1883. As of 2009, she was the first African American woman to have a statue in the Capitol building, and she was also included in the Smithsonian’s 2014 ranking of the “100 Most Significant Americans of All Time” for her progressive humanitarian work.

Throughout 2020, the New York’s Women’s Suffrage Commission—chaired by Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul—is commemorating the hundredth anniversary of the 19th Amendment being ratified. The new monument to Sojourner Truth will help create more representation of women and people of color who’ve contributed to the history and culture of New York.

“Sojourner Truth’s courage and determination helped blaze a trail for women and people of color across the country, and this monument will help future generations remember her legacy and inspire them to continue the fight toward a more just society,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said when announcing the construction of a monument honoring Truth in 2019. “I am thrilled that the State of New York is commissioning fellow New Yorker Vinnie Bagwell to create this monument and I can’t wait to see her work depicting this historic figure along the Empire State Trail.”

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