Lois Ahrens: Our radical abolitionist ancestors continue to inspire us

Sojourner Truth Memorial Statue at Pine and Park streets in Florence.

Sojourner Truth Memorial Statue at Pine and Park streets in Florence. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Published: 05-29-2024 4:26 PM

Modified: 05-29-2024 6:21 PM

This Sunday, I was again inspired and invigorated by the now 22nd annual celebration organized by the Sojourner Truth Memorial Committee. There are too many people to thank for the years of work raising money, hiring sculptor Thomas Jay Warren who captured the spirit of Sojourner, and for the many community members who for 22 years continue to educate us about the bravery, vision and perseverance of the once enslaved and self-liberated Sojourner Truth, who lived in Florence for 14 years and agitated for equality and justice.

Of course, she was not alone in her work, as we learn from the groundbreaking research begun by Steve Strimer, who continues to unearth the buried history of the village of Florence. Steve found its rich radical abolitionist history and the visionaries of the Northampton Association of Education and Industry. They still inspire us with their commitment to racial and class equity, religious tolerance, and women’s rights.

One hundred and eighty-two years after the Northampton Association’s founding, we are still striving to fulfill their prescience. Finally, I am sure I write for everyone there on Sunday, who are again grateful for the wonderful Amherst Area Gospel Choir under the leadership of their choir director Jacqueline Wallace. It is always a joy to see their faces and hear them as they uplift our spirits.

Lois Ahrens


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