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Unusual visitor speaks at Akron council meeting

By Stephanie Warsmith Published: March 25, 2014

Akron City Council had an unusual speaker during the public comment period Monday night: Sojourner Truth.

Dressed in a long-gingham dress, bonnet and shawl, Truth told council about her life and recited her famous "Ain't I a Woman" speech that she delivered at a women's convention in Akron in 1851.

The woman behind the bonnet was Hazel Malone, a retired Akron school teacher, whom council members saw portray Truth, an abolitionist and women's rights activist, during a recent Democratic women's meeting. Council President Garry Moneypenny invited Malone to reprise her role during council in honor of Women's History Month.

Those attending council were initially confused by what Malone was doing. She began talking at the podium and then moved through the chambers, ending up in the middle of the horseshoe where council members sit. When she finished, Willie Smith, a frequent attendee of council meetings, exclaimed, "Sojourner!" and many in the audience gave Malone a standing ovation.

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