Sunday, May 12, 2013

A Mother, a slave, and a speaker for human rights - Sojourner Truth!

I was on Facebook today and found a quote posted with picture of a woman I greatly admired when I was much younger. 

The Quote
Her name was Isabelle Baumfree, born in 1797, into slavery, right here in the State of New York.   Yes, New York …and as a young person I found that hard to believe because of course, the south is where the slaves were.

Isabella spoke Dutch since a New York Dutch family owned her… (Dutch...that blew my mind as a kid) She was eventually sold with sheep for $100 and started her family by being forced to marry a man she did not love.  The man she loved was a slave who belong to another slave owner and if they had children - they would have been his owner’s property. 

In her own biography she tells of the terrible beatings she received, being sold, of her poor children being sold and of finally being promised her freedom in 1826 for an amount of work.  When her owner reneged on the deal, she ran away with her young child Sophia and found refuge with a man and wife who paid the $20 for work she supposedly still owned her former owner. (New York laws for abolition took effect on July 4, 1827)

When she learned that her 5 years old son Peter (she had to leave behind) had been illegally sold south, she took the issue to court. This case was one of the first in which a black woman challenged a white man in a United States court, and she won.

She says the “Spirit” came to her one day and she decided to go out and preach for abolition and women’s rights - among many other issues.  The name she took would become well known in American history…she chose Sojourner Truth.

Sojourner Truth became a great public speaker and became friends with all of the luminaries of abolition from Wendell Phillips to William Lloyd Garrison.  She met Presidents... and she vigorously spoke for Women’s Rights - especially for black women after black men were given the vote and so much more.  Reading some of her quotes today is totally enjoyable since she spoke the “Truth”-plainly and out front! (Maybe why I am so outspoken some times.)

"Truth is powerful, and it prevails."
   – Sojourner Truth

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