Updated: Nov 9, 2022
By Journey Artis
Sojourner Truth was born in 1797. Her birth name was Isabella Bomfree; however, she changed it to Sojourner Truth after her conversion to Christianity. She wanted the name Sojourner because she was to travel, sign people and show them their sins, and her last name truth was because she was to declare the truth to people. The truth was bought and sold four times and was victim to harsh and difficult physical labor and the violent attacks that slavery brought.
However, in the year 1827, which was a year before New York's laws freeing slaves was to take effect, she escaped with her infant daughter to a family of abolitionists nearby. The family later bought her freedom and helped her successfully sue for her son's return to her and his freedom in 1828 against a white man. The truth was the first black woman to win a case of that caliber against a white man. She later went on to become a very outspoken advocate for abolition and civil and women's rights. She gave speeches, went on lecture tours, and dictated an autobiography since she never learned how to read or write. In one of her speeches, "Ain't I A Woman," she challenged stereotypes and beliefs of race and gender inferiorities, and inequalities by informing the listeners of her strength and female status. The speech eventually became very popular, which most likely contributed to her growing recognition. She helped slaves escape and encouraged young men to join the Union Cause and organize supplies for black troops. These contributions to the Civil War earned her an invitation to meet President Lincoln.
Truth also fought against segregation in Washington, D.C.In the 1860s, when a streetcar conductor violently tried to block her from riding, she made sure he was arrested and won her case against him following that incident.
Spending the rest of her life in Michigan, Sojourner Truth died on November 26, 1883. She, however, left behind a huge legacy that oftentimes does not get the accolades it deserves. She had the courage and bravery to make a better life for herself and her children, one that they may have not even known existed, as well as championing causes that contributed to change both in the Women and African American community through her tremendous efforts, committing acts that were unheard of during the time such as suing white men, and winning, while not even knowing how to read and write. Sojourner Truth is the story of what can happen when you have the bravery, strength, and courage to do good for yourself, stand up for others, and not let your disadvantages or society's views of you stand in your way!