Sojourner Truth (Isabella Baumfree): Why she kicks ass
- She is an African-American abolitionist and women’s rights activist, born into slavery in New York, but escaped with her infant daughter to freedom in 1826. After going to court to recover her son, she became the first black woman to win such a case against a white man.
- Her best-known extemporaneous speech on gender inequalities, Ain’t I a Woman?, was delivered in 1851 at the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio. During the Civil War, Truth helped recruit black troops for the Union Army; after the war, Truth tried unsuccessfully to secure land grants from the federal government for former slaves.
- Late in 1826, Truth escaped to freedom with her infant daughter, Sophia. She had to leave her other children behind because they were not legally freed in the emancipation order until they had served as bound servants into their twenties. When Truth learned that her son Peter, then five years old, had been sold illegally by her previous enslaver to an owner in Alabama, she took the issue to court and, after months of legal proceedings, got back her son, who had been abused by his new enslaver.
- On June 1, 1843, Truth changed her name to Sojourner Truth and told her friends, “The Spirit calls me, and I must go.” She became a Methodist, and left to make her way traveling and preaching about the abolition of slavery.
- In 1844, she joined the Northampton Association of Education and Industry in Northampton, Massachusetts. Founded by abolitionists, the organization supported women’s rights and religious tolerance as well as pacifism. There were 210 members and they lived on 500 acres (2.0 km2), raising livestock, running a sawmill, a gristmill, and a silk factory.
- Truth started dictating her memoirs to her friend Olive Gilbert, and in 1850 William Lloyd Garrison privately published her book, The Narrative of Sojourner Truth: A Northern Slave. That same year, she purchased a home in Northampton for $300, and spoke at the first National Women’s Rights Convention in Worcester, Massachusetts.
- Over the next decade, Truth spoke before dozens, perhaps hundreds, of audiences. From 1851 to 1853, she worked with Marius Robinson, the editor of the Ohio Anti-Slavery Bugle, and traveled around that state speaking.
- In 1856, she traveled to Battle Creek, Michigan, to speak to a group called the Friends of Human Progress. In 1858, someone interrupted a speech and accused her of being a man; Truth opened her blouse and revealed her breasts.
After Black men got the right to vote, all Truth’s former White women abolitionist friends became so extremely racist (What? Your gonna let niggers vote before a White woman!), and it really alienated her. It was sad to read, because it was those same women that were having her speak at events and helping her… and then suddenly, Black men got the right to vote and all hell broke loose.
Truth is one of those Black History Month regulars. People know of her, more than most Black historical figures, but because they know of her, they don’t actually take the time out to truly learn about her.
I found this to be a good book. Sojourner Truth: A Life, A Symbol by Nell Irvin Painter.
The original caller outer of White Feminist(TR)s.