Sojourner Truth could not be deterred—not by slavery, not by illiteracy and certainly not by naysayers. In recognition of her contributions as a suffragist and abolitionist, a new life-size bronze sculpture of Truth was unveiled Jan. 22 at UC San Diego. Created by local artist Manuelita Brown, M.S. ’76, the artwork is prominently located in the heart of Marshall College on Ridge Walk.
“This life-size sculpture is a decade-long dream realized,” says Brown. “Sojourner Truth serves as a drum major for social justice, equity and voting rights. It is my hope that the brilliant students and graduates of UC San Diego will be reminded each day as they walk past her of what they can accomplish with a superior education.”
Born into slavery before escaping with her infant daughter in 1826, Truth was born Isabella Baumfree and spent much of her life speaking on behalf of racial and gender equality. The sculpture captures Truth in motion with a small carpet bag in one hand and a Bible in the other—she had children read it to her so that she could memorize passages to strengthen her argument for equal rights.
In addition to Sojourner Truth, Brown’s works include the Thurgood Marshall bust at Marshall College, as well as Triton located outside the Price Center. Before becoming a full-time artist, she taught at UC San Diego and served as director of the academic support program, Honor Achievement Workshop. Brown continues to be actively involved on campus as chair of the Black Alumni Scholarship Fund Board as well as a member of the Black Alumni Council and UCSD Alumni Board of Directors.
The new Sojourner Truth statue joins a collection of several public artworks on campus dedicated to the celebration of diversity and activism, including the Martin Luther King & 37th Street mural at Marshall College and the Chicano Legacy 40 Años mosaic on Peterson Hall.