Sojourner Truth was a strong woman who spoke her mind for what she believed in. Sojourner Truth, originally named Isabelle, was born into slavery in about 1797 in Ulster County, New York. Around 1815, Isabella married Thomas, a fellow slave, and had five kids: Diana, Peter, Elizabeth, Sophia, and a fifth child who may have died in infancy. Isabella settled in New York City until 1843 when she changed her name to Sojourner Truth. Then announcing she would travel the land as an itinerant preacher, working against injustice and telling the truth. Truth lived in Northampton, Massachusetts, where she bought a home.
She traveled around preaching human rights. She was illiterate but a powerful figure in several national social movements: women's rights and suffrage, the rights of freedmen, speaking forcefully for the abolition of slavery, and temperance. Her most famous address was known as "Ain't I A Woman." This address was made at a Women's Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio, on May 28, 1851. The truth asserts that women deserve equal rights with men. "I have plowed and planted, and I have gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man—when I could get it—and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman?"
She concluded her argument by saying, "Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! The man had nothing to do with him."
Sojourner supported herself by selling portraits captioned, "I sell the shadow to support the substance." She also received income from her biography, written by her friend Olive Gilbert. The biography was titled The Narrative of Sojourner Truth, A North Slave. Ten years later, she moved to Battle Creek, turning a small barn on College Street into her home. She lived there with her daughters, Diana and Elizabeth, until her death. During her lifetime, she brought and won three lawsuits. She retrieved her son, Peter, who had been illegally sold from New York into slavery in Alabama. She also won a slander suit in NYC and a personal injury case after she was injured in a streetcar accident in Washington, D.C.
Sojourner Truth died at her home on College Street on November 26, 1883. Her funeral service, reportedly attended by 1,000 people, was held at the Congregational-Presbyterian Church. She is buried at Oak Hill Cemetery in Battle Creek.
The photograph below is the one I chose because the description below it explains the meaning of the photo above it. That description explains the way that I have seen and would describe Sojourner Truth.
Acrylic on canvas: I included a collection of diverse names of people who worked and some who gave their lives for the cause of civil justice and freedom. The names are placed behind the image of Sojourner Truth. The bottom section of the painting is made up of a repeated phrase from the famous speech she gave in 1851 at a women's rights convention in Akron, Ohio. I used symbols to convey a sense of ancestral histories and cultural perspectives.
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