Rename of Donald J. Trump Park to Sojourner Truth Park

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Names have meaning and the names given to public property have significance in how we choose to reflect the character and values of who we are as a nation and people.  This is a proposition to change the name of Donald J. Trump Park to Sojourner Truth Park.  The 465 acre parcel of land is located on the eastern bounds of the Taconic State Parkway spanning Westchester and Putnam Counties. 

There have been three previous attempts to rename the 465 acre parcel currently bearing the name Donald J. Trump Park.  Public record will show that Trump and his associated development company paid $2 million for this property. After being unable to develop the property, the land was donated to the State of New York which he and his firm used as a tax write-off.  This was not a charitable gift derived out of generosity but an equitable exchange of real property for a financial incentive.


Several previous proposed names have all been admirable choices but perhaps have not met the benchmark through which most public lands have been rededicated in our State, to honor individuals rather than perhaps individuals who have donated land. The naming of a park should be that of a historic New Yorker who has made an outstanding contribution to the history and development of our state and one who evokes the values of patriotism, inclusiveness and equity under the law.  There are few individuals who embodied the spirit and diversity of New York like Sojourner Truth. It seems only fitting that a park stripped of the name of a man who incited insurrection should be replaced with that of a woman who fought against and helped defeat insurrectionists. 


Sojourner Truth was born into slavery as Isabella Baumfree near Kingston, NY in 1797.  She was sold at least twice during her early life and was not freed until mandated under State Law in 1827.  Truth successfully sued for the return and freedom of her son from the State of Alabama in 1828.  As a free person she became active both within her church as well as the abolition and suffrage movements.  She gained national notoriety for her speech “Ain’t I a Woman” and would actively participate in the causes of emancipation, enfranchisement and equal protection under the law.  Her ardent activism to help her neighbors and fellow Americans was tirelessly carried out all the while supporting and raising a family on her own.  Truth passed away at Battle Creek, Michigan in 1883.  Shortly after her death Frederick Douglass said she was “Venerable for age, distinguished for insight into human nature, remarkable for independence and courageous self-assertion, devoted to the welfare of her race, she has been for the last forty years an object of respect and admiration to social reformers everywhere."