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Abolitionist (1797-1883)

Born into slavery as Isabella Baumfree in upstate New York.  Sojourner Truth obtained her freedom and moved to New York City.  There she began to work with organizations designed to assist women.  She later became a traveling preacher and quickly developed a reputation as a powerful speaker.  A turning point in her life occurred when she visited the Northhampton Association in Massachusetts.  The members of this association included many of the leading abolitionists and women's rights activists of her time.  Among these people Sojourner Truth discussed issues of the day and as a result of these discussions became one of the first people in the country to link the oppression of Black slaves with the oppression of women.  As a speaker, Sojourner Truth became known for her quick wit and powerful presence.

She would never be intimidated.  Because of her powerful speaking ability, independent spirit, and her six foot frame, she was often accused of being a man.  She ended that in Silver Lake, Indiana when she exposed her breast to the audience that accused her.  Sojourner Truth lived a long and productive life.  She spoke before Congress and two Presidents.  Sojourner Truth is best remembered for a speech she gave at a women's rights conference where she noticed that no one was addressing the rights of Black women.  Her address reads in part: "Dat man ober dar say dat womin needs to be helped over carriages, and lifted ober ditches and to have the best place everywhere.  Nobody eber helps me into carriages, or ober muddpuddles, or bigs me any best place. "And ain't I a woman? Look at me, Looka at me arm." I have ploughed and planted and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And "ain't, I a woman."

Revised: July 18, 2013.