Senate District 6 Unsung Hero
Founder and Executive Director at
SOJOURNER Truth Multicultural Art Museum
Shonna McDaniels is an artist, teacher, muralist, community activist and a great visionary. More than 20 years ago, she sought to open minds and change lives through the exploration and celebration of African American history, culture and art. In 1996 she founded the Sojourner Truth Art Museum on Florin Road. The museum is named for Sojourner Truth who was born a slave and worked tirelessly to end slavery and support the rights of oppressed people. Over the years, Shonna has remained dedicated to ensuring thousands of Sacramento students have the opportunity to learn through workshops, classes and special events. African American History Month is a perfect time to explore the SOJOURNER Truth Multicultural Art Museum. Please visit www.sojoartsmuseum.org to learn more.
Tell us a little about yourself:
I've lived in South Sacramento over 48 years. Most of my life has been spent doing jobs that provide community service. Service work is a very humbling and rewarding experience
How are you making a difference in your community?
In 2002 I founded the Sojourner Truth Museum. Today, the museum outreaches to over 12,000 community youth families by providing art experiences through the promotion and legacy of Sojourner Truth.
What inspires your community efforts and why is the work important to you?
The inspiration for my work is the desire to keep Art Alive and Thriving in our communities. The work is important because Art Saves Lives and is a tool to ignite unlimited possibilities and success in our youth.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
I’m proud to be the founder of the first and only African American Museum in Sacramento. Our mission is to open minds and change lives through the exploration and celebration of African American history, experiences and culture through art education and outreach. Our vision is of a world in which the adversity and achievement of African American history inspire everyone toward a greater understanding of acceptance and unity!
The museum is named for Sojourner Truth who, although born a slave, worked tirelessly for abolition, women’s rights, non-violence, and civil and economic advancement of oppressed people. The museum gives homage to Mrs. Sojourner by expanding the historical & biographical knowledge of her life’s work and carrying on her mission by teaching, demonstrating and promoting projects that accentuate the ideals and principles for which she stood.
What have you struggled most with in your life?
In my lifetime I've always struggled most with Cultural Equity. Diverse goals and desired outcomes-over time and between different groups-have made change a juggling act; meanwhile, efforts to add on fixes to a system that was not built with equity in mind have met with mixed results. My goal, like Sojourner Truth is to live in a world where everyone is treated equally.
If you have kids, what kind of lessons do you work to instill in them?
I instill in my own kids as well as kids in the village to respect themselves, their parents and elders. Never say Never; set small and long term goals and work to achieve them. Be humble & grateful and always give back to the community.
If there is one problem in our community that you wish you could fix, what would it be?
Police brutality is one problem in my community that I wish I could fix. I have a son and daughter and being proactive to creating change and solutions is a must!
How do you decompress?
I decompress by understanding I can't control things that are out of my control. I take a deep breath, breathe and remember to be humble and thankful.