Who was Sojourner Truth?
Google Celebrates Sojourner Truth, but who was she?
February is National African American History Month. A month that is dedicated to honouring the contributions African Americans made to the American society. And to start it all off, Google decided to put up Sojourner Truth. Truth was born in 1797 to parents that were slaves. Her original name was Isabella Bomfree. She was born in Ulster County, New York but was bought and sold several times during the course of her life. According to documents, the first time she was sold she was 9 years old. She was bought together with a flock of sheep by John Neely for the price of 100 dollars.
By the time she was 13 she was sold 2 more times and she ended up in the home of John and Elizabeth Dumont in West Park, New York. Truth was connected to another slave and had 5 children in total. John and Elizabeth Dumont promised to free Truth on July 4th, 1826, but the facts say that when that date came and passed she was still enslaved.
In 1828 there was a law planned to go into effect in New York with regards to freeing the slaves. But Truth decided to run away with her infant, Sophia. Of course the Dumont’s went looking for her, and it was then that Maria and Isaac Wagenen who were abolitionists purchased Truth’s freedom for 20 dollars. They also later helped Truth file a lawsuit for the return of her son, Peter who was sold into Slavery in Alabama. Her successful lawsuit made her the first black woman in America to sue a white man and win.
Truth had the following to say about the ordeal “I did not run off, for I thought that wicked, but I walked off, believing that to be all right.” Truth decided to stay in New York City and started working for a local minister. In 1843 she changed her named to Sojourner truth. In 1850 she published her autobiography, The Narrative of Sojourner Truth, and while writing that she gave speeches about slavery and worked with abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass. She joined the Northampton Association of Education and Industry which was based in Massachusetts. And in 1851 the Ohio Women’s Right Convention where she delivered her most famous speech.
The title of the speech was “Ain’t I a woman?” In the speech she used her own stature and being female to challenge the notion of racial and gender inferiority and inequality. She also helped recruit soldiers for the Civil War and collected food and other supplies for black refugees. In 1864 she was invited to the White House and the President at the time Abraham Lincoln showed her a bible he was given.
Truth eventually settled down in Battle Creek, Michigan where some of her daughters lived. But she kept speaking on behalf of the minorities. She passed away on November 26th, 1883. And it’s reported that on her tombstone the words “Is God Dead” are engraved. Which was a question she asked Douglass to try to encourage him to have faith. In 2020, Truth will join other American women in replacing former President Andrew Jackson on the 10 dollar bill.
I for one thank her for everything she did.