Sojourner Truth (1797 - 1883)
Sojourner Truth was an abolitionist and feminist who, after being freed as a slave, traveled the United States speaking at various conventions for the equality of blacks and women. Her most famous speech was entitled "Ain't I a Woman?" and it was delivered at the Women's Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio. Truth displayed unparalleled courage in the face of males who sneered and hissed while she spoke on stage. She discarded her slave name when she finally gained her liberty and replaced it with Sojourner. She did this because sojourn meant "to dwell temporarily" (which she thought an apt description of one's tenure in this life), and she chose Truth because that was the message she intended to carry to the world. She told of the horrible treatment she and her family endured at the hands of their owners, including many rapes and assaults. Sojourner came to believe that the liberation of blacks and that of women were closely related, and her antislavery lectures became infused with arguments for women's rights. In 1850 she published her autobiography and, with the proceeds from the book, was able to support herself. During the Civil War she visited and spoke with Union troops; after the war she spent her time finding jobs for and helping newly freed slaves. Please click here to see the artistic plate created by Judy Chicago to honor Sojourner Truth.