Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth

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Sojourner Truth lived a long and productive life. She met spoke to and for many important people along her journey such as congressmen and two presidents. Truth had a quick wit about her and was noted for her powerful presence and powerful speaking ability. She never learned to read or write but has been remembered for her moving speeches about black freedom and women's rights. Truth developed herself to become a strong and devoted supporter of women's rights which assisted with teaching future societies that we must look beyond individual differences and find ways to relate and treat each other with mutual respect; that we need to create a future that is more just and equal also known as a non-violent world.

Sojourner Truth was born with the name Isabella Baumfree around the years 1795-1798 in Ulster County in southeast New York. She was one of ten or twelve children and the daughter of James Baumfree "Bomefree" and Elizabeth "Mau-Mau Bett." She had several owners who, for the most part, treated her poorly until she decided one morning upon waking to take her son and walk away towards freedom. This was one of the initial steps of courage Truth portrayed in her courageous journey to assert her basic human rights. From this point on Truth was never afraid to challenge established power.

In 1843, Truth began her long career as an activist and a traveling preacher speaking the truth about religion. In her speeches and sermons she fought for abolition of slavery and women's rights. After the Civil War she even tried to persuade the government to repay former enslaved Africans with free land. Truth portrayed herself as a compelling speaker who profoundly moved those who heard her. She had a love for

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freedom and could easily convert others to feel the same love. Truth also believed she had a direct communication with God. At one point in her life she sensed that God told her to preach, to share the importance of women's rights and abolitionism and to tell the truth about the Holy Spirit. She did this by speaking to her audiences about the evils of slavery and the importance of women in society. The best remembered speech she gave was the one in 1851 in Akron, Ohio, when she spoke in front of an audience who were less than polite to her.

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This speech was known as the "Ain't I a Woman" which, for the most part, proclaimed her identity as a great black woman in history. One piece of this speech describes "That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! Ain't I a woman?" Truth lets it be known that just because she is of a different color Jesus doesn't think she is any different. Later in the speech Truth says, "If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back and get it right side up again!" Truth won the hearts and souls of both white and black women and led the journey for women's rights for both.

Sojourner Truth was illiterate all of her life, but she hardly allowed it to exclude her from the moral and political discourse of her time. She read by being read to. She had three great chapters to her life: the first was the thirty years of slavery the second was the years she freed herself with the power of the Holy Spirit and the third was the job of antislavery feminism. Through Truth's life we learn that freedom is not merely social and political and that those external forms of freedom are of little to use to us if we are

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enslaved intellectually and spiritually. She made a speech that ensured people around the nation realized that freedom was more than the notion of chains - it was a freedom of the mind. She made people realize that slavery had doubly effect the women especially the black women, as they were second-class citizens from two sides - the racial and the gender. Through her speech she allowed women to realize that they were being suppressed and this was wrong and so she paved the way for the women's suffrage movement in the future.

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Works Cited

Painter, Nell Irvin. "Narrative of Sojourner Truth; A Bondswoman of Olden Time, With a History of Her." Penguin Books, 1998.
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