HIGHLAND, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — In the Hudson Valley county where she was born and enslaved, a new monument celebrates the greatness of Sojourner Truth.
CBS2’s Tony Aiello was there Monday as the towering bronze was carefully put into place.
The statue arrived under wraps from a foundry in Astoria, Queens, where the vision of artist Vinnie Bagwell took final form. The Sojourner Truth monument stands 7 feet tall and weighs 1,000 pounds. It’s a tribute to one of the greatest New Yorkers.
“She just had so many triumphs, and her perseverance and her tenacity, her character, these are things that people can still continue to try and strive for,” Bagwell said.
A crew of five specialists from West Virginia spent more than an hour removing the statue from a van and transporting it to a place of prominence — on the west side of the popular Walkway Over the Hudson River.
The statue of Truth will stand about eight miles from where she was born in the Ulster County town of Esopus. She spent 30 years of her life as an enslaved woman, until New York emancipation in 1827.
She is a major figure in both the abolition of slavery and the empowerment of women, fighting for their right to vote.
The statue is a first step as the Cuomo administration works to diversify New Yorkers honored in public places.
Joan Kelley is a local historian.
“We need to remember all the citizens, not just the rich white guys,” Kelley said.
It took three hours before the wraps came off and the statue was revealed in its glorious detail. Truth’s skirt is embellished with figures, including Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln, as well as young enslaved people.
Truth went to court to win back her son after he was shipped to a plantation in Alabama.
“When she decided she was going to get her child back, she was relentless about that. She was very persistent,” Bagwell said.
Her memory has endured and now is cast in bronze, an appropriate and heroic form.
The Ulster County monument will be formally dedicated on Aug. 25. The next day, another statue featuring Truth and two other leaders in the suffrage movement will be unveiled in Central Park.