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Sojourner Truth Essay 1056 Words | 5 Pages


Nell Irvin Painter, Sojourner Truth: A Life, a Symbol (New York: W.W. Norton, 1996), 201.

Jacqueline Bernard, Journey Toward Freedom: The Story of Sojourner Truth [1967], (New York: Feminist Press at the City University of New York, 1990), 126.

Ida B. Wells-Barnett, 1909. Speech, National Negro Conference.

Primary Source

NARRATIVE OF SOJOURNER TRUTH Written by Olive Gilbert, based on information provided by Sojourner Truth. 1850

Alfreda M. Duster, ea., Crusade for Justice: The Autobiography of Ida B. Wells (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970)

During the Civil War, Truth tramped the roads of Michigan collecting food and clothing for black regiments. She traveled to , where she met with at the , and immersed herself in relief work for the freedpeople. During , Truth barely supported herself by selling a narrative of her life as well as her “shadows,” photographs of herself. She lent her unique skills to the women’s suffrage movement and initiated a petition drive to obtain land for the freedpeople, even suggesting the idea of a “Negro state” in the West. She preached cleanliness and godliness among the freedpeople and dictated many letters about the land question, which provide rich details about that aspect of Reconstruction.

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One of the most famous and admired African-American women in U.S. history, Sojourner Truth sang, preached, and debated at camp meetings across the country, led by her devotion to the antislavery movement and her ardent pursuit of women's rights. Born into slavery in 1797, Truth fled from bondage some 30 years later to become a powerful figure in the progressive movements reshaping American society.
This remarkable narrative, first published in 1850, offers a rare glimpse into the little-documented world of Northern slavery. Truth recounts her life as a slave in rural New York, her separation from her family, her religious conversion, and her life as a traveling preacher during the 1840s. She also describes her work as a social reformer, counselor of former slaves, and sponsor of a black migration to the West.
A spellbinding orator and implacable prophet, Truth mesmerized audiences with her tales of life in bondage and with her moving renditions of Methodist hymns and her own songs. Frederick Douglass described her message as a "strange compound of wit and wisdom, of wild enthusiasm, and flint-like common sense." This inspiring account of a black woman's struggles for racial and sexual equality is essential reading for students of American history, as well as for those interested in the continuing quest for equality of opportunity.

Isabella escaped slavery in 1827, one year before mandatory emancipation in New York State, by fleeing to a Quaker family, the Van Wageners, whose name she took. She moved to , worked as a domestic, became involved in moral reform, embraced evangelical religion, started her street-corner preaching career, and eventually joined a utopian community in Sing Sing, New York. Illiterate and a mystic, Isabella nevertheless acquired a wide knowledge of the Bible and emerged in the 1840s in , working among the Garrisonian abolitionists. A popular platform figure, she told stories and sang gospel songs that instructed and entertained. Adopting the name “Sojourner Truth” in 1843, she became a wandering orator. In the mid-1850s she settled in Battle Creek, , her base of operations for the rest of her life.

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An evangelist, abolitionist, and feminist, Sojourner Truth (c. 1797-1883) is remembered for her unschooled but remarkable voice raised in support of abolitionism, the freedmen, and women’s rights. Tales of her aggressive platform style, of her challenge to on the issue of violence against slavery (“Frederick! Is God dead?”), and of her baring her breasts before a crude audience who had challenged her womanhood grace the pages of abolitionist lore.

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FREE Essay on The Sojourner Truth - Direct Essays

An essay or paper on The Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth was a prominent abolitionist and women’s rights activist. Born a slave in New York State, she had at least three of her children sold away from her. After escaping slavery, Truth embraced evangelical religion and became involved in moral reform and abolitionist work. She collected supplies for black regiments during the Civil War and immersed herself in advocating for freedpeople during the Reconstruction period. Truth was a powerful and impassioned speaker whose legacy of feminism and racial equality still resonates today. She is perhaps best known for her stirring “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech, delivered at a women’s convention in Ohio in 1851.

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