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Hudson Valley Press

March 2nd, 2011

2011 Sojourner Truth Awards at Orange

Middletown - SUNY Orange will formally recognize 565 local students attending Orange County schools for their achievements in a variety of educational areas when the College hosts the awards banquet for its 22nd annual Sojourner Truth Awards Program at 7 p.m., March 4th in the Physical Education Building. Snow date for the program is 1 p.m. March 5th.

The Sojourner Truth Awards Program hails students from grades 6-12 who have demonstrated skills in areas such as athletics, citizenship, creative arts, diversity, English language arts, foreign languages, perseverance/effort, and sciences and technology. The program aims to promote education in a positive manner and motivate students who are from groups that are traditionally under-represented in the college population to consider college as a viable and attainable goal. The honored students will be acknowledged during the awards ceremony.

The evening’s keynote speaker is Steve Fitzhugh, a former National Football League player who currently serves as executive director of PowerMoves, an organization he founded to help lead students and young people toward success. He is a renowned motivational speaker who challenges young people to make positive choices in life.

His message challenges students on critical issues of today: from dropping out to academic leadership; from peer pressure to positive values; from alcohol abuse to freedom from the chemical culture. He is also a national spokesperson for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes’ "One Way 2 Play - Drug Free" program. He also was a co-founder of "The House," an after-school teen center in Washington, D.C., that serves as a safe place for students to gather and stay off the streets.

Fitzhugh was a two-sport athlete (track and field, and football) at Miami University of Ohio, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in public administration. He is also an author and poet.

In addition to speeches and the awards ceremony, the evening’s program will feature entertainment by the musical group AJ and a presentation of the colors by the Middletown High School Junior ROTC.

Sojourner Truth, for whom the program is named, lived in the mid-Hudson Valley after escaping from slavery. She is hailed as one of the most distinguished and highly regarded women of the 19th century. Born Isabella Bomefree (later spelled Baumfree) about 1797 in Hurley, NY, Isabella was sold four times, until she and her daughter were given their freedom in 1828. Isabella spoke low Dutch until she was about 10 years old and never learned to read or write.

In 1843 she changed her name to Sojourner Truth to better reflect her chosen missions of traveling to show people their sins and telling them what is true. Sojourner Truth is often referred to as one of the most effective and powerful speech-makers of her time.

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Reader Response
  • Mike
  • March 4th, 2011 As a white parent of a 11 year old, I find this award to be racist at best. What kind of message does this send to my child whose achievements are overlooked while his minority friends receive special awards because of their color? Furthermore, what is the message when it's a state owned intitution sponsoring the event? Suny Orange doesn't recognize or like white people? Dump this 22 year old racist event for something that includes everyone.

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