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Sojourner Truth was a former uneducated slave who opposed oppression. She was illiterate her whole life, for 86 years, but she still managed to get her name in the history books. She was an abolitionist and activist for black freedom. Truth was an important figure of Black history. She collected supplies for black regiments during the Civil War, immersed herself in advocating for freed people during the Reconstruction period, and many more. In the following paragraphs, we will look at her accomplishments, the hardships she faced, and the way this wondrous human being influenced other people’s lives and Black history.
Sojourner Truth went through many hardships as a child because she was a black woman. Born as Isabella Baumfree around 1797 in a slave family, she was put up for auction with a flock of sheep for 100$ when her owner died in 1806. Isabella was sold to numerous owners, the next one more cruel than the first. Growing up in Ulster County, which was colonized by the Dutch, Isabella couldn’t speak a word of English until she was 9. She was whipped, beaten and even sexually abuse because she was incapable of speaking English.
She was sold to John Dumont in 1810. While Dumont was relatively nice to Baumfree, his wife, Elizabeth Dumont, disliked Isabella. She made Isabella’s life hard. In 1811, Isabella met and fell in love with another slave named Robert. Robert’s owner prohibited them to visit each other. He didn’t want property that he had no rights to claim,. One day, Robert’s owner and his son followed Robert when he snuck out to visit Isabella.They beat him savagely and dragged him away. Isabella’s lover was never to be seen again.
Isabella’s mom, Elizabeth Baumfree, has once told her a quote that she considered as “the light to my path after faith”. “Once you go through pain in the beginning, whether it’s heartbreak or an important loss, God makes it easy for the survivor in the end.” The quote spoke to Isabella as she went on to accomplish many things in her life that helped her become an historic figure.
Sojourner Truth took her childhood experiences as motivation to help ensure that other Black Americans didn’t go through what she did. Her faith, kindness, and determination helped accomplish things that helped shape Black history. In 1817, the State of New York granted freedom to slaves, but they could only leave New York for Michigan in 1827. During that time, Isabella had five kids with another slave named Thomas. They were James, who died 13 months after his birth, Peter, Elisabeth and Sophia. After waiting ten years to be free, Baumfree found out the Dumont was plotting to keep her enslaved. She then took her infant Sophia and ran away, leaving the rest of her family behind.
Shortly after her escape, she found out that her son, Peter had been sold illegally to man in Alabama by Dumont. She brought this to court and won her son back. By winning, she became one of the first Black women to win a case against a white man. She then moved to New York City with her son, where she worked as a housekeeper for Christian Evangelist, Elijah Pierson. Sometime later, she converted to Christianity. This, as Isabella says, was one of “the best choice I have ever made.”
On June 1 1843, Isabella Baumfree changed her name to Sojourner Truth, devoting her life to Methodism and the abolition of slavery. She helped recruit black troops for the Union Army during the Civil War, led anti-slavery movements and was apart of the Michigan abolitionists. She also rode streetcars that were designated to white people as a sign of rebellion to help the desegregation project. Truth was truly a force to be reckoned with, as she was ready to take her experiences and accomplish things that have helped her become the well known woman she was.
But how did she influence other people’s lives’? How did she help shape Black history? With a strong, powerful voice. Her speeches touched many every time she spoke. Her lectures weren’t like the boring one’s a teacher gives during class. Her’s were moving and left people thinking.
Her first speech was at a mob convention. It was a speech based on the audience’s response to her presence. They did not like Truth. Ask the 400 white men what they thought about her at first glance, and they’ll tell you that she was just another piece of trash, speaking about black and women rights. Truth responded elegantly to the jeers from the crowd. She said: “You may hiss as much as you please but blacks and woman will get their rights anyways. You can’t stop us neither.”
Truth made plenty of speeches where she spoke about African-American’s needs, women’s rights and faith. But her most famous speech was Ain’t I Women? She spoke mainly about women’s right’s but she did briefly speak of black rights and faith in the Lord.
The line: “If my cup won’t hold a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn’t you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?” Was the line that left many thinking. Truth reminded everyone of how humans can be kind, how humans can take care of one another. We can help a thirsty brothers and sister who need a little more to drink. It makes me remember that whether someone’s black or white; man or woman, I should help other’s in need, not because it’s a nice thing to do, but because it’s the humanly thing to do.
Sojourner Truth has inspired me. She was a strong but kind woman, who fought to change how black people were treated. Even after President’s Lincoln’s law to abolish slavery, she didn’t stop and fought for more until her death. Her ability to use faith as the light to her path to success has seriously inspired me. As a religious black woman, I am going to preach the same message Sojourner did with the help of faith, kindness and determination.
Sojourner Truth has truly shaped black history and has inspired many, including, me to continue shaping it and making the journey for other black kids easy.
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