June 22 at 9:00 am

Walkway Over the Hudson
State Historic Park:
A Path to Celebrating
Local Black History

Come to understand the relationship of national abolitionist icons Sojourner Truth and Frederick Douglass with the Pre-Civil War local free & enslaved Black community in a guided, narrated walk from the Sojourner Truth statue to the site of Frederick Douglass’s 1858 speech at College Hill.

A collaboration of New York State Parks, the Dutchess County Historical Society and Celebrating the African Spirit. With special thanks for logistical and promotional support from Friends of the Walkway Over the Hudson.

While we appropriately celebrate international abolitionist icons like Sojourner Truth and Frederick Douglass in their fight against slavery, we too often miss the stories of local Africans, and local men, women and children of African descent, both free and enslaved, who had vibrant, compelling lives that can motivate and inspire us.

This trail will start at the statue of Sojourner Truth on the west side of the Walkway Over the Hudson and continue to the site of Frederick Douglass’s 1858 speech at College Hill’s College Grove. Truth was born enslaved locally, named Isabella Baumfree, before she declared herself free and chose the name she felt God intended for her.

We will make occasional stops to either look at a specific site, or to reflect on the broader dynamics of the history of the free and enslaved Black communities locally in the run-up to the Civil War. The walk will end at the site at College Hill where Frederick Douglass spoke to an audience of four thousands persons in 1858, on the brink of Civil War. We will talk about why Douglass quoted Lincoln’s “A House Divided Can Not Stand” speech and why that was so controversial at the time.

Saturday, June 22nd 2024, Start at Sojourner Truth Statue at 9:00 am

Participants should meet near the Sojourner Truth statue on the west side of the Walkway and we will begin at 9:00am. Free parking is available on the West side of the Walkway located at 87 Haviland Rd in Highland, NY. 

The walking tour will cover approximately 5 miles, following a walking route from the Sojourner Truth memorial on the west side of the Walkway to College Hill Park in Poughkeepsie via the Dutchess County Rail Trail.  Please anticipate approximately 2 ½ hours for the tour. An optional abbreviated, assisted tour will be available to those who need it via Walkway’s 11-passenger, electric tram. This version of the tour will cover the Walkway park only and will not require any walking. 

Please bring a water bottle and comfortable shoes. Limited space is available on the tram. If you are interested in reserving a space on the tram please email Bill Jeffway. Spaces will be held on a first come, first served basis. 

Guides will draw from two similar but complimentary trails done by Celebrating the African Spirit and the Dutchess County Historical Society:

Trail #1: The full trail from Sojourner Truth Statue to Frederick site is longer and in a larger context.

Trail #2: The trail from Sojourner Truth Statue to east side of Walkway is shorter with deeper focus. We will draw from both trails with the idea they can be repeated and new information will constantly be added.