To commemorate Black History Month and Women’s History Month, New York Governor Kathy Hochul on Tuesday announced a new state park will be named after iconic African-American abolitionist and suffragist Sojourner Truth.
According to Travel + Leisure, a statement said the state park encompasses over 500 acres of previously owned industrial property along the shoreline of the Hudson River in Ulster County. This will be the City of Kingston’s first state park as well as the newest state park to open since July 2019.
“It is fitting such a magnificent property, with its cliffs and Hudson shoreline, bears the name of a remarkable woman who started life right here in Ulster County,” Governor Hochul said in the statement. “New York is committed to reflecting the diverse stories of its people, such as Sojourner Truth and her message of freedom and equality, that have influenced our state’s inspiring history.”
Truth, an iconic figure who fought for women’s rights and racial equality, made her mark in history by fighting against the injustices of slavery in the United States. Born into slavery as Isabella Baumfree in Esopus, Ulster County in 1797, Truth became an early advocate against the practice. She escaped bondage in 1826, a year before New York ended legal enslavement.
One of her earliest triumphs happened when her son, Peter, was just five years of age. Challenging that Peter was illegally sold into slavery, Truth became one of the first Black women to challenge a White man in court and win. That was in 1828.
The State Parks, in August 2020, unveiled a statue of Truth at the western entrance to the Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park in Ulster County. The statue was installed to mark the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage. A descendant of Truth attended the event.
State Parks and Scenic Hudson, a not-for-profit environmental group, then partnered to preserve land for the new park, the statement said. The site was initially intended to be used for an expansive private development project. The vast property was purchased for $13.5 million, and the funds were provided through the state Environmental Protection Fund.
“State Parks is proud to name our newest park in honor of Sojourner Truth, an early prominent voice in New York and later the nation for abolition and women’s rights,” State Parks commissioner Erik Kulleseid said.
“In addition to bringing her story to visitors, this park also will allow for interpretation of the site’s industrial and indigenous history and will help protect the ecology of the Hudson River. The new park will support the ongoing economic revitalization of Kingston and the regional recreational tourism economy. It will benefit the quality of life for residents throughout the year, as well as provide a major new Hudson Valley attraction for users of the Empire State Trail.”
The new Sojourner Truth State Park will be open to the public this spring. That will be after State Parks is done setting up limited parking spots and hiking trails to enable public access.
“After years of sitting neglected, this unique urban property will, for the first time, be open for Kingston residents to access its breathtaking views, incredible trails, and beautiful Hudson River waterfront,” Kingston Mayor Steve Noble said.
“We are looking forward to working with all of our partners to make this a world-class park that is accessible to each and every resident of Kingston and our surrounding communities. I thank Governor Hochul for her commitment to our parks and open spaces and also for recognizing Sojourner Truth’s legacy here.”