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Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth is important in history because she fought for women’s rights and spoke against slavery. Sojourner Truth is a former slave and was an advocate for abolition, and civil and women’s rights in the nineteenth century. Her civil war work had earned her an invitation to meet Abraham Lincoln, President in 1864. Truth was bought and sold four times and she was subjected to harsh physical labor and violent punishments. During her teens, she was united with other slaves and she had five children. Truth had run away with her infant Sophia to a nearby abolitionist family, Van Wagemers. This family had bought her freedom for $20 and they had helped Truth successfully sue for the return of her five-year-old son, Peter, He was illegally sold into slavery in Alabama. By the 1830s, Truth participated in the religious revivals that were sweeping the state and becoming a charismatic speaker. Though, in 1843, she declared that the Spirit had called on her to preach the truth. In 1851, she began a lecture tour that included a women’s rights conference in Akron, Ohio, where she delivered her famous speech, “Ain’t I a Woman.” In the speech, she challenged prevailing notions of racial and gender inferiority and inequality by reminding listeners of her combined strength and female status. During the 1850’s she settled in Battle Creek, Michigan. This is where three of her daughters lived. Truth continued speaking nationally and helped slaves escape to freedom but when the Civil War started, she urged young men to join the Union cause and organize supplies for black troops. After this war, Truth was honored with an invitation to the White House and she became involved with the Freedmen’s Bureau, helping freed slaves to find jobs and help build new lives. In DC she lobbied against segregation, in the late 1860s she collected many signatures like thousands of signatures on a petition to provide former slaves with the land. Congress never took action. Toward the end of Truth’s life she was nearly blind and deaf, she spent her last years in Michigan.

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