Sojourner Truth - Bad Girls Throughout History: 100 Remarkable Women Who Changed the World - Ann Shen

Bad Girls Throughout History: 100 Remarkable Women Who Changed the World - Ann Shen (2016)

Sojourner Truth

Activist Sojourner Truth (ca. 1797-1883) was born Isabella Baumfree into a family of slaves in New York. She escaped to freedom with her infant daughter a year before the state abolished slavery in 1827, and she became the first African-American woman to win a case against a white man when she sued her former master for selling her five-year-old son. She became a Methodist and adopted the name “Sojourner Truth,” seeing it as a mission statement for her life. The illiterate former slave toured the country, speaking passionately for the political equality of women and the abolition of slavery, including at the 1850 first National Women’s Rights Convention and in 1851 at the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention, where she delivered her famous “Ain’t I a woman?” speech. Her views were revolutionary even for her time, and she became a national figure for civil rights before the Civil War even began. Truth used her influence to help recruit black troops for the Union Army and to work steadily for desegregation immediately after the Emancipation Proclamation, even attempting to ride a whites-only streetcar in Washington in 1865. She was a fervent advocate for the equality of the sexes and was turned away from the polls in 1872 for attempting to vote in the presidential election. Truth passed away in her own home at the age of seventy-six, almost forty years before women would finally be given the vote. More than three thousand people attended her funeral. She left a legacy of defying expectations and gave a voice to the most overlooked populations by representing slaves as a female and women as an African-American.

Ain’t I a woman?