African American News and Genealogy

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Friday, June 17, 2005

Granholm to sign Truth Day into law

Gov. Jennifer Granholm is expected Friday to sign a bill into law that officially recognizes Nov. 26 as Sojourner Truth Day in Michigan. State Sen. Mark Schauer, D-Bedford Township, had the item included in a bill which recognizes the third Saturday in June as Juneteenth National Freedom Day. "Sojourner Truth is one of our most influential historical figures. I am pleased that we are officially recognizing her life and work," Schauer said in a press release. "Her contribution to the fight for equal rights was exceptional, and we are thankful for her example. It is a proud day for Battle Creek and for Michigan." Truth, who died Nov. 26, 1883, advocated for the abolition of slavery and for social and racial equality at a time in American history when black people were either in or just emerging from slavery. She is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery. Truth, one of Battle Creek's most famous historic figures, was born in 1797 in New York and was sold away from her family when she was 11. She escaped slavery in 1827, then changed her name to Sojourner Truth from Isabella Baumfree in 1843. Later, she traveled the country as a free woman, giving speeches and lobbying lawmakers on such issues as economic opportunities for freed slaves and segregation on trolley cars. After settling in Battle Creek in 1857, Truth helped match newly freed slaves with employers in the area. Schauer has been working on making an official recognition of the anniversary of Truth's death state law for the past few years and worked with Mary Butler, director of Heritage Battle Creek's research center, on the language that was included in the Juneteenth bill. "It's fitting that the state recognize her importance statewide and nationally," Butler said. "She was already famous when she moved to Battle Creek an0d brought national fame to the state and Battle Creek." Source:


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