GR man found strength in ancestor Sojourner Truth

Black History Month

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Burl McLiechey Jr. has a room full of pictures and books commemorating Sojourner Truth inside his Grand Rapids home.

“Her fight for women’s rights and human rights, that’s why she’s in Washington D.C. right now,” McLiechey said.

He is a great-great-great-grandson of Truth.

“It would be Sojourner Truth, Sophie, Fannie, Thomas, Burl Sr., Burl Jr.,” McLiechey said as he listed the names on his fingers.

McLiechey overcame struggles with epilepsy as a child by reading a book about Truth that his teacher gave him.

“(She) read that book with me, and said, ‘If she had the strength to do what she did, you got to have the same strength in you because of who you are; you have her bloodline,'” McLiechey said.

As an adult, he traveled the country speaking about Truth.

“They put a chair and table there and said, ‘Mr. McLiechey, can you sign autographs?’ I’m like, what?” McLiechey recalled about one of his experiences at a speaking appearance.

He’s currently working on telling her story on screen.

“Did a family documentary this summer, which should be coming out in a couple months,” he said.

The documentary was filmed in Battle Creek and features descendants of Truth’s from all over the country.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Growing Grand Rapids and Beyond

More Growing Grand Rapids and beyond

Top Stories On WOODTV.com

Know something newsworthy? Report It!

News 8 Links