Sojourner Truth

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Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth, born in about 1797, was a woman of remarkable intelligence despite her illiteracy. Truth had great presence. She was tall, some 5 feet 11 inches. Her voice was low, so low that listeners sometimes termed it masculine, and her singing voice was beautifully powerful. Whenever she spoke in public, she also sang. No one ever forgot the power of Sojourner Truth's singing, just as her wit and originality of phrasing were also memorable.

Sojourner Truth: ex-slave and fiery abolitionist, figure of imposing physique, riveting preacher and spellbinding singer who dazzled listeners with her wit and originality. Straight-talking and unsentimental, Truth became a national symbol for strong black women--indeed, for all strong women. Like Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass, she is regarded as a radical of immense and enduring influence; yet, unlike them, what is remembered of her consists more of myth than of personality. She was a complex woman who was born into slavery and died a legend. Inspired by religion, Truth transformed herself from a domestic servant named Isabella into an itinerant pentecostal preacher; her words of empowerment have inspired black women and poor people the world over to this day. As an abolitionist and a feminist, Truth defied the notion that slaves were male and women were white, expounding a fact that still bears repeating: among blacks there are women; among women, there are blacks.

"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. And now that they are asking to do it, the men better let them."

Sojouner Truth

Isabella Van Wagenen was born into slavery in Hurley, New York in 1797. She was one of 13 children but she never got to know her brothers and sisters because they were quickly sold a slaves.

Her master, Mr. Dumont arranged for her to marry a slave named Thomas. She had 5 children with him, but her master sold some of them.

She was released following the New York Anti Slavery Law of 1827, however slavery was not abolished nationwide for 35 years. She lived for a time with a Quaker family who gave her the only education she ever received. They also helped her get back one of her children.

She became an outspoken advocate of women's rights as well as blacks' rights. In 1843, she changed her name to Sojourner Truth . Everywhere she spoke she made a lasting impression. She was physically strong and over six feet tall and she had a powerful, booming voice.

She actively supported the Black troops during ther Civil War and helped get the government to give these soldiers land. She continued to travel and preach throughout the northeast and midwest from her home in Battle Creek. Michigan where she died at the age of 84 in 1883.

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