A new mural in Newark by local artist Grace Lynne Haynes titled Sojourner Truth, Founding Mother celebrates women’s suffrage and voting rights. Completion of the mural was announced this week by Mayor Ras Baraka and Project for Empty Space
The nearly 30-foot-high portrait located of the 18th- and 19th-century African-American activist is on Edison Place, in the rear of Project for Empty Space’s new home on Broad Street which houses a community art gallery and 50 artist studios.
Sojourner Truth, Founding Mother commemorates the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. Truth, who died in 1883, spent her life fighting for women’s rights and abolition.
“Sojourner Truth was one of the earliest African-American women to fight for the rights and liberties of all American women,” Baraka said. “While she may have spoken and fought for women’s rights and against racism more than 150 years ago, her message remains as current and important now as it did then. It is truly appropriate for us to honor her work now and carry her message into the future, both through activism and art.”
The image was first published as the cover of the Aug. 3 & 10, 2020 issue of New Yorker. “I learned about Sojourner Truth as a child, in grade school, and was always inspired by her tenacity, will, and futuristic vision,” Ms. Haynes said in her interview with the publication. “I wanted to shed light on her legacy, which reminds women that no matter what has happened in their lives, they can still have a powerful impact on society.”
As the 2020 presidential election approaches, this artwork amplifies the power and importance of one’s vote. The mural faces The Prudential Center, which is anticipated to serve as a super polling site for the election. A voter registration event is planned for the Prudential Center on September 22.
“Project for Empty Space is a social justice driven, female-led art space committed to cultivating dialogue around important social issues. We believe that it is imperative that we acknowledge the power of one’s voice, action and vote. This work can be a reminder of the impact a single person can have in the race for reform,” said Rebecca Jampol and Jasmine Wahi, co-directors of Project for Empty Space.
The mural is part of an ongoing social justice public art initiative driven by Mayor Baraka and the City of Newark’s Division of Arts and Culture led by Director Fayemi Shakur. Additional murals will be created by artists Layqa Nuna Yawar and Malcolm Rolling. The initiative began in June with two community ground murals that were painted in solidarity with Black Lives Matter demonstrations around the world.