Who was she?
Born Isabella Baumfree, Sojourner Truth was an abolitionist and women’s rights activist. She was born a slave but escaped in 1826 with her infant daughter.
What did she do?
When she found out that her five-year-old son had been sold illegally by her former master, Truth went to court and became the first Black woman to go against a White man and win. In 1843, she changed her name to Sojourner Truth and began traveling around the country, speaking out against slavery. She secretly published a memoir, “The Narrative of Sojourner Truth: A Northern Slave” and spoke at the first National Women’s Rights Convention, which launched her lecture tour. In her speech, which later became known as “Ain’t I A Woman” she demanded equal rights for all Black people AND all women. She helped recruit Black troops for the Union Army and tried, unsuccessfully, to secure land grants for former slaves after the Emancipation Proclamation had been signed.
Why does she matter?
Sojourner Truth spent her life fighting for the freedoms that women and Black people enjoy today. She is an example of someone who saw the problem with her circumstances, both as a woman and as an African American, and rather than sit around and complain, stood up and did something about it. She led the battle to win hearts and minds, and with the help of those who shared her mission, was able to effect serious change.