Sojourner TRUTH, How Apt

Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
Feb 14, 2012
Messages
19,337
Location
Central Pennsylvania
I've been meaning to get to this thread for a few days, keep becoming side tracked. There's so MUCH here to read and respond to, Good Grief- you find yourself immersed in another subject with time gone before there's been a chance to get to the serious work. It's crazy. I do see folks here who manage to maintain a good flow of threads and have a LOT of respect for the ability- can never manage to pull it off.

Sojourner Truth may have lived an awful lot of years ago, but really should not have to wait longer for more attention. I know there's another thread somewhere in the past year, plus there's certainly another few in the history of the forum. I thought maybe cast a new net over her life and work, please excuse. SO often, these names we're so familiar with become just that- names- through over-familiarity. We kind of forget to REALLY look at who they were and why on earth they ARE such familiar names to us.

It's also odd- in looking through various websites about her- an awful lot leave out some pretty important information about her past. Very important, and wish I knew why. There seems to be a tendency to gloss over UGLY, create pasts which contain only some smooth, barren, picturesque version of these people- can't figure that one out. She had some awful times yet a LOT of ' bios' ignore those times and only mention say, the man she lived with- not that he beat her. She was Sojourner Truth- a name picked through a religious conversion, a woman dedicated TO Truth, a woman looked down on by Frederick Douglas! Why THAT, when my goodness, she could certainly have used some support for her work. Because to him, she wasn't educated enough, she was too plain and woodsy and primitive. And a female.

Sojourner to me had a TRUE path, she left no woman behind- black or white, but especially black. It is incredibly interesting to find even the suffragettes jettisoned black rights over women's rights, so black women's rights? Not a big concern. Sojourner held true in the face of a major, major split among women over this- she had no compromise when it came to Truth. We should not either, for her sake and for all she stood for- thank goodness.

Posting thread info on next post- there's 'stuff' from various places, not really glued together into one post, but too valuable not to have in an informative thread on her.
 

brass napoleon

Colonel
Retired Moderator
Member of the Year
Honored Fallen Comrade
Joined
Feb 6, 2010
Messages
14,968
Location
Ohio
... It is incredibly interesting to find even the suffragettes jettisoned black rights over women's rights, so black women's rights? Not a big concern...
Great thread. Just have to point out on the above, that the suffragettes who have gotten all the attention over the years, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, were the ones who threw black rights under the bus. Their predecessor in the woman's rights movement, Lucy Stone, remained an adamant supporter of equal rights for everyone, and if that meant black rights came before women's rights, so be it. Sadly, Lucy Stone has been largely forgotten by history, probably in large part because Anthony and Stanton threw her under the bus too.
 

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
Feb 14, 2012
Messages
19,337
Location
Central Pennsylvania
I still can't find a comprehensive article- most do still gloss over a lot of the ' ugly' and do not deal with her religious conversion well- or her complicated relationship with the people who called her ' property'.

http://www.sojournertruth.org/Library/Archive/LegacyOfFaith.htm
Sojourner Truth was born into slavery about 1797 in Ulster County, New York. Known as Isabella, her parents were James and Betsey, the property of Colonel Johannes Hardenbergh. As a child she spoke only low Dutch and, like most slaves, never learned to read or write.

About 1815 Isabella married Thomas, a fellow slave, and bore five children -- Diana (b. 1815), Peter (b. 1821), Elizabeth (b.1825), Sophia (b. 1826) and a fifth child who may have died in infancy.

Isabella was sold to four more owners, until she finally walked to freedom in 1826, carrying her infant daughter, Sophia.
She settled in New York City until 1843, when she changed her name to Sojourner Truth, announcing she would travel the land as an itinerant preacher, telling the truth and working against injustice.

During the next several years, Truth lived in Northampton, Massachusetts, where she purchased a home, and in Ohio. She traveled around the east and Midwest preaching for human rights. This illiterate ex-slave was a powerful figure in several national social movements, speaking forcefully for the abolition of slavery, women’s rights and suffrage, the rights of freedmen, temperance, prison reform and the termination of capital punishment.

03-Portrait-mini.jpg
In the course of her travels, she befriended many of the leading reformers and abolitionists of the day, including Amy Post, Parker Pillsbury, Frances Dana Gage, Wendell Phillips, William Lloyd Garrison, Laura Haviland, Lucretia Mott, Susan B. Anthony, and Harriet Beecher Stowe.

Truth supported herself by selling portraits, captioned "I sell the Shadow to support the Substance." She also received income from the sale of her biography, The Narrative of Sojourner Truth, A Northern Slave, written in 1850 by her friend, Olive Gilbert.

Her grandson, Sammy Banks, accompanied Sojourner on many of her lecture tours. He could read and write for her and was an invaluable companion until he died in 1875, at the age of twenty-four.

Sojourner first came to Battle Creek, Michigan, in 1856 when she was invited to address the radical Quaker group, the Friends of Human Progress. The next year she moved to Michigan, buying a home in the nearby settlement of Harmonia.
15-Homestead-mini.gif
Ten years later, Sojourner moved into Battle Creek, converting a small barn on College Street into her home. She lived there with her daughters, Diana and Elizabeth, until her death.

While she lived in Michigan, Truth continued her national human rights crusade. In the 1860s thousands of freedmen and former slaves fled to Washington, D.C., seeking safety and jobs. However, the federal government was totally unprepared for this influx. There was no place for the ex-slaves to live, very little food and no employment. Sojourner worked at Freedman’s Village and for the Freedman's Bureau trying to improve their living conditions.

Maryland residents frequently came into Freedman's Village to steal children. If the parents complained, they were put into the guardhouse. Truth learned of these kidnappings and she encouraged the parents to protest. When the camp commanders threatened to imprison her also, Sojourner replied that, if they tried, she would "make this nation rock like a cradle."

She was very active in relocating the former slaves to western states like Kansas. Sojourner lobbied the government to give them free land and to pay their transportation costs to their new homes. She carried petitions with her, urging people to sign them, asking, "Why don’t some of you stir ’em [the government] up as though an old body like myself could do all the stirring."


Sojourner Truth died at her home on College Street on November 26, 1883. Her funeral service, reportedly attended by 1,000 people, was held at the Congregational-Presbyterian Church. She is buried at Oak Hill Cemetery in Battle Creek.
The words inscribed on her tombstone, "Is God Dead?" came from an 1852 encounter between Truth and another noted ex-slave abolitionist, Frederick Douglass. They were both attending a meeting in Salem, Ohio, and Douglass had been speaking very despondently. A hush came over the audience as Sojourner rose and admonished Douglass, asking, "Frederick, is God gone?"

19a-Tombstone-mini.jpg
Her tombstone gives her age as 105. Truth herself encouraged speculation about her age, enjoying the added notoriety it gave her to be called the "world's oldest lecturer." According to the few available records, she was 86 when she died.

Almost six feet tall, Truth was a striking woman with a charismatic presence. When she addressed an audience, her low resonant voice, especially when raised in song, could still the most hostile crowd.

Sojourner Truth often testified to the demeaning nature of slavery and the redeeming power of faith. She declared that her soul was "beclouded and crushed" while in slavery. "But how good and wise is God, for if slaves knowed what their true condition was, it would be more than the mind could bear. While the race is sold of all their rights -- what is there on God's footstool to bring them up?"

"But I believe in the next world. When we get up yonder, we shall have all them rights 'stored to us again." (Anti-Slavery Bugle, Oct. 1856)
But Truth was unwilling to wait to get to Heaven to have her rights -- or those of any persecuted person -- restored.
Preaching for racial equality, she asked, "Does not God love colored children as well as white children? And did not the same Savior die to save the one as well as the other?" (Sabbath School Convention, Battle Creek, June 1863)
Truth was not intimidated by convention or authority. She learned to manipulate establishment institutions to effect reforms. During her lifetime she brought, and won, three lawsuits. This was very unusual for a woman, especially for an illiterate ex-slave. She retrieved her son, Peter, who had been sold illegally from New York State into slavery in Alabama. She also won a slander suit in New York City and a personal injury case after she was injured in a street car incident in Washington. D.C.

Sojourner was legendary for her sense of humor, which she frequently used to deflate self-righteousness. She ridiculed the contrast between the earnest message of some of the women social activists and the frivolous clothing they wore. "What kind of reformers be you, with goose-wings on your heads, as if you were going to fly, and dressed in such ridiculous fashion, talking about reform and women's rights?"

Probably her most famous address, known as "Ain't I A Woman," was made at a Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio, on May 28, 1851. Sojourner asserted that women deserved equal rights with men because they were equal in capability to men. "I have plowed and reaped and husked and chopped and mowed, and can any man do more than that?" She concluded her argument, saying "And how came Jesus into the world? Through God who created him and the woman who bore him. Man, where was your part?" (Anti-Slavery Bugle, June, 1851)

Although Sojourner Truth was not an active participant in the Underground Railroad, she did assist many blacks who had previously traveled this route to freedom by helping them find new homes.

Frances Titus, wife of prosperous Quaker miller Richard Titus, was Truth's friend, traveling companion, sponsor and lecture manager. She also revised Gilbert's Narrative and added a Book of Life section. After Sojourner died, Titus published a final edition of the Narrative which included memorial tributes.

Titus collected donations and erected a marker on Sojourner’s grave three years after her death.
In 1892 she commissioned Franklin C. Courter, an art professor at nearby Albion College, to portray the meeting between Truth and President Abraham Lincoln at the White House on October 29, 1864. The painting depicted the President showing Truth the "Lincoln Bible," which had been presented to him by the black people of Baltimore, Maryland.

When it was completed, the painting was displayed at the 1893 Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition. Later it hung in the lobby of the Battle Creek Sanitarium, where it was destroyed in the Sanitarium fire in 1902. However, the image had been preserved by Frank Perry, a local photographer, who took a picture of the painting before the disasterous fire.
Battle Creek is proud of Truth's life and legacy and there are many local memorials and tributes to this remarkable woman. Beginning in 1897, a succession of clubs, societies and memorial associations were established in her honor. In 1935 a stone in the history tower in Monument Park was dedicated to Truth.

In recent years a marker was placed on her gravesite, memorializing her family members buried there (1961), May 18 was proclaimed Sojourner Truth Day (1968), the Calhoun County portion of M66 was designated Sojourner Truth Memorial Highway (1976) and a Michigan Women’s Studies Marker was erected downtown (1987, later moved to Kimball House Museum).

In 1987 the state and Calhoun County Bar Associations installed a plaque in the former Hall of Justice. The local club of the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women's Clubs holds an annual Sojourner Truth luncheon recognizing dedicated students and civic leaders. Afterwards, they gather at Truth's grave for a memorial service.

A United States postage stamp was issued in her honor at the Sojourner Truth Library in New Paltz, New York, on February 5, 1986. Sojourner has also been installed in both the Michigan (1983) and National Women’s Hall of Fame at Seneca Falls, New York (1981).

In 1997 Battle Creek marked the 200th anniversary of Truth's birth with a year-long celebration. The events culminated with a national Woman's Conference, focusing on past and present issues in Truth's tradition, and the publication of a special edition of Heritage Battle Creek magazine.

The continuing symbolic importance of Sojourner as a seeker after truth was recently recognized on an inter-planetary level when the Mars Pathfinder Microver was named in her honor.

**************************************************************************************************************

Sojourner Truth

The woman we know as Sojourner Truth was born into slavery in New York as Isabella Baumfree (after her father's owner, Baumfree). She was sold several times, and while owned by the John Dumont family in Ulster County, married Thomas, another of Dumont's slaves. She had five children with Thomas. In 1827, New York law emancipated all slaves, but Isabella had already left her husband and run away with her youngest child. She went to work for the family of Isaac Van Wagenen.

While working for the Van Wagenen's -- whose name she used briefly -- she discovered that a member of the Dumont family had sold one of her children to slavery in Alabama. Since this son had been emancipated under New York Law, Isabella sued in court and won his return.

Isabella experienced a religious conversion, moved to New York City and to a Methodist perfectionist commune, and there came under the influence of a religious prophet named Mathias. The commune fell apart a few years later, with allegations of sexual improprieties and even murder. Isabella herself was accused of poisoning, and sued successfully for libel. She continued as well during that time to work as a household servant. In 1843, she took the name Sojourner Truth, believing this to be on the instructions of the Holy Spirit and became a traveling preacher (the meaning of her new name). In the late 1840s she connected with the abolitionist movement, becoming a popular speaker. In 1850, she also began speaking on woman suffrage. Her most famous speech, Ain't I a Woman?, was given in 1851 at a women's rights convention in Ohio. Sojourner Truth met Harriet Beecher Stowe, who wrote about her for the Atlantic Monthly and wrote a new introduction to Truth's autobiography, The Narrative of Sojourner Truth.

Sojourner Truth moved to Michigan and joined yet another religious commune, this one associated with the Friends. She was at one point friendly with Millerites, a religious movement that grew out of Methodism and later became the Seventh Day Adventists. During the Civil War Sojourner Truth raised food and clothing contributions for black regiments, and met Abraham Lincoln at the White House in 1864. While there, she tried to challenge the discrimination that segregated street cars by race.

After the War ended, Sojourner Truth again spoke widely, advocating for some time a "Negro State" in the west. She spoke mainly to white audiences, and mostly on religion, "Negro" and women's rights, and on temperance, though immediately after the Civil War she tried to organize efforts to provide jobs for black refugees from the war.
Active until 1875, when her grandson and companion fell ill and died, Sojourner Truth returned to Michigan where her health deteriorated and she died in 1883 in a Battle Creek sanitorium of infected ulcers on her legs. She was buried in Battle Creek, Michigan, after a very well-attended funeral.

http://womenshistory.about.com/od/sojournertruth/a/sojourner_truth_bio.htm

Sojourner Quotes

There is a great stir about colored men getting their rights, but not a word about the colored women; and if colored men get their rights, and not colored women theirs, you see the colored men will be masters over the women, and it will be just as bad as it was
.
Sojourner Truth (c. 1797-1883) was arguably the most famous of the 19th Century black women orators. Born into slavery in New York and freed in 1827 under the state’s gradual emancipation law, she dedicated her life to abolition and equal rights for women and men. Two versions of her most noted speech appear below. Scholars agree that the speech was given at the Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio, on May 29, 1851. After that, there is much debate about what she said and how she said it. The version that is most quoted was published in the 1875 edition of Truth’s Narrative (which was written by others) and in Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s History of Woman Suffrage which appeared in 1881. Both versions were published 25 years after Truth spoke. However the Salem, Ohio, Anti-Slavery Bugle published its version of the speech on June 21, 1851. Since that version appeared within a month of her presentation, many historians believe it to be the more accurate rendering of the talk. However both versions rely on the interpretations of others. Since no written transcript of the speech has appeared, what Truth actually said, as historian Nell Painter has pointed out, will probably never be known.

Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that ‘twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what’s all this here talking about?

That man over there says women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And arn’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed, and planted , and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And arn’t I woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man—when I could get it—and bear the lash as well! And arn’t I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen them most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And aren’t I a woman?

Then they talk about this thing in the head; what’s this they call it? [“Intellect,” whispered someone near.] That’s it, honey. What’s that got to do with women’s rights or negro rights? If my cup won’t hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn’t you be mean not to let me have my little half-measure full? Then that little man in black there, he says women can’t have as much rights as men, because Christ wasn’t a woman! Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him….

If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again! And now they are asking to do it, the men better let them.
FROM THE ANTI-SLAVERY BUGLE:

One of the most unique and interesting speeches of the convention was made by Sojourner’s Truth, an emancipated slave. It is impossible to transfer it to paper, or convey any adequate idea of the effect it produced upon the audience. Those only can appreciate it who saw her powerful form, her whole-souled, earnest gesture, and listened to her strong and truthful tones. She came forward to the platform and addressing the President said with great simplicity:

May I say a few words? Receiving an affirmative answer, she proceeded; I want to say a few words about this matter. I am a woman’s rights [sic]. I have as much muscle as any man, and can do as much work as any man. I have plowed and reaped and husked and chopped and mowed, and can any man do more than that? I have heard much about the sexes being equal; I can carry as much as any man, and can eat as much too, if I can get it. I am strong as any man that is now.
As for intellect, all I can say is, if woman have a pint and man a quart—why can’t she have her little pint full? You need not be afraid to give us our rights for fear we will take too much—for we won’t take more than our pint’ll hold.
The poor men seem to be all in confusion and don’t know what to do. Why children, if you have woman’s rights give it to her and you will feel better. You will have your own rights, and they won’t be so much trouble.

I can’t read, but I can hear. I have heard the Bible and have learned that Eve caused man to sin. Well if woman upset the world, do give her a chance to set it right side up again. The lady has spoken about Jesus, how he never spurned woman from him, and she was right. When Lazarus died, Mary and Martha came to him with faith and love and besought him to raise their brother. And Jesus wept—and Lazarus came forth. And how came Jesus into the world? Through God who created him and woman who bore him. Man, where is your part?

But the women are coming up blessed be God and a few of the men are coming up with them. But man is in a tight place, the poor slave is on him, woman is coming on him, and he is surely between a hawk and a buzzard.
http://www.blackpast.org/1851-sojourner-truth-arnt-i-woman

• It is the mind that makes the body.
• If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.
• Truth burns up error.
Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.
• Religion without humanity is poor human stuff.
http://www.pbs.org/thisfarbyfaith/people/sojourner_truth.html

Sojourner Truth.jpg





 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
Feb 14, 2012
Messages
19,337
Location
Central Pennsylvania
Great thread. Just have to point out on the above, that the suffragettes who have gotten all the attention over the years, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, were the ones who threw black rights under the bus. Their predecessor in the woman's rights movement, Lucy Stone, remained an adamant supporter of equal rights for everyone, and if that meant black rights came before women's rights, so be it. Sadly, Lucy Stone has been largely forgotten by history, probably in large part because Anthony and Stanton threw her under the bus too.
Ha! Yes- I was just discovering that! Couldn't believe it because of COURSE all you hear about are those names! While reading the blurbs on Sojourner, it transpired she dug her heels in- it had become more than clear they were not at all interested in BLACK women's rights! Amazing to me- all the talk about suffering, oppression- sisterhood- they sure didn't put THAT on Susan's coin. Not that the coin took off into much of a success. Have an intention of following this UP! Thanks for the head's up on Lucy- will dig around on her, too. BOY- chick world can be a tough, tough place. These women are NOT helping that perception.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

18thVirginia

Major
Joined
Sep 8, 2012
Messages
7,786
Ha! Yes- I was just discovering that! Couldn't believe it because of COURSE all you hear about are those names! While reading the blurbs on Sojourner, it transpired she dug her heels in- it had become more than clear they were not at all interested in BLACK women's rights! Amazing to me- all the talk about suffering, oppression- sisterhood- they sure didn't put THAT on Susan's coin. Not that the coin took off into much of a success. Have an intention of following this UP! Thanks for the head's up on Lucy- will dig around on her, too. BOY- chick world can be a tough, tough place. These women are NOT helping that perception.
Alfre Woodard reads the Sojourner Truth speech:

Cicely Tyson recites the Sojourner Truth speech
 

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
Feb 14, 2012
Messages
19,337
Location
Central Pennsylvania
I can't imagine how many, many women have been stirred by her words- I'm not sure how you'd get through the whole speech, seriously. Not sure I could. Every time I pick a favorite quote or phrase, I'll read something else then that's my favorite. Not being of the African American heritage, have no idea how much more intensely the words must affect you.

The thing is, she is where the women's movement should have stayed. It became a little of what it seems to me today ( opinion- although really don't care if it's unpopular ) strident, harsh, feels sharp-edged and unforgiving. I'm inclined to point young women in the direction of Truth's perspectives, she was uncompromising, unflagging in her championing of women's rights while allowing some essential warmth to remain inside her strength- and loyalty.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
Feb 14, 2012
Messages
19,337
Location
Central Pennsylvania
Yes, of course she was born into slavery where it's most shocking to a lot of people- New York, for Heaven's sake. Also where the ground-swell of abolitionism shook the ground, shifted plates beneath the earth enough to cause a tidal wave. Those back washes, boy, we know what happens when one breaks over open ground- sucks everything along with it, wrecks the old, allows new growth in it's wake. Tidal Wave was an entire war.
 

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
Feb 14, 2012
Messages
19,337
Location
Central Pennsylvania
We badly needed to bump Sojourner Truth. She gives me this pang when I think of her and her work, I can't put my finger on it. But I'm awfully proud to be able to bring her words and work to others,

Thank you so much, Sojourner Truth.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!
Top