Three years ago, I heard Tina Allen’s name a lot while a close friend was creating a video - part documentary, part performance.
The documentation briefed the viewer that Tina Allen was a New York born, sculptor who made a name for herself creating a number of large sculptures of Black leaders, paying tribute to our ancestors, so that our “greats” will be remembered. In the performance part of my friend’s video, my friend, Elle Beah, is performing Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I A Woman,” in Battle Creek, Michigan, in front of Allen’s twelve-foot sculpture of Truth, at Monument Park.
Allen dedicated the sculpture in Monument Park as a celebration of what was estimated to be Truth’s 200th birthday. This, of course, is just guess work because even Truth didn’t know her own birthday – pretty normal for those born into slavery.
How does this all play into my friend’s video? I hear you. Well, one of Truth’s speeches, “Ain’t I A Woman?” Has been performed by many many MANY women, even some celebrities. In some of these performances, the actresses speak with a southern accent, which Truth never had. Sojourner Truth was born in New York and her first language was Dutch. So, either the actresses performing the speech are channeling their own ancestors or they were just too lazy to do the research on the woman they claim to admire. This has been a thorn in Elle Beah’s side, so she decided to put her own version of the speech out, using her own voice.
Although her name was dropped in my lap three years ago, it wasn’t until this week that I began digging into the life and work of Tina Allen. She transitioned into pure energy almost twelve years ago, but she is here forever. You know the law of Conservation of Energy: energy cannot be created or destroyed.
Take a look at Elle Beah’s video here.