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Tue, 09.19.1797

Sojourner Truth, abolitionist and women’s rights pioneer

Sojourner Truth

On this date we recall the birth of Sojourner Truth in 1797. She was a Black abolitionist and advocate of women's rights.

She was born into slavery in Hurley, Ulster County, New York, and was originally named Isabella. She arrived in New York City in 1829, a year after New York state emancipated slaves.

Sojourner Truth was a mystic who heard voices she believed to be God's. She preached in the streets Of New York. In 1843, obeying her voices, she took the name Sojourner Truth and began preaching along the eastern seaboard. That same year she came into contact with the abolitionist movement, which she enthusiastically embraced, and for the next few years she toured the country speaking in its behalf.

Encountering the women's rights movement in 1850, she also added its causes to hers. During the American Civil War, she solicited gifts for Black volunteer regiments. President Abraham Lincoln received her in the White House in 1864. She later advocated a "Negro State" in the West.

Sojourner Truth continued to stump the country on speaking tours until 1875. An illiterate all her life, she was nevertheless an effective speaker and was endowed with a charisma that often drew large crowds to her informal lectures. Sojourner Truth died in 1883.

Fifty Black women Who Changed America
by Amy Alexander. A Birch Lane Press Book,
Carol Publishing Group 1999
ISBN 1-55972-478-1

The Anti-Slavery Society

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