Was the self-given name, from 1843 for Isabella Baumfree, an African-American abolitionist and women’s rights activist? Truth was born into slavery in Swartekill, Ulster County, New York, but escaped with her infant daughter to freedom in 1826. After going to court to recover her son, she became the first black woman to win such a case against a white man. Her best-known extemporaneous speech on gender inequalities, “Ain’t I a Woman?”, was delivered in 1851 at the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio, During the Civil War, Truth helped recruit black troops for the Union Army; after the war, she tried unsuccessfully to secure land grants from the federal government for former slaves
On June 1, 1843, Truth changed her name to Sojourner Truth and told her friends: “The Spirit calls me, and I must go.” She became a Methodist, and left to make her way traveling and preaching about the abolition of slavery. In 1844, she joined the Northampton Association of Education and Industry in Northampton, Massachusetts. Founded by abolitionists, the organization supported women’s rights and religious tolerance as well as pacifism… There were 210 members and they lived on 500 acres (2.0 km), raising livestock, running a sawmill, a gristmill, and a silk factory. While there, Truth met William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass and David Ruggles. In 1846, the group disbanded, unable to support itself.In 1847, she went to work as a housekeeper for George Benson, the brother-in-law of William Lloyd Garrison. In 1849, she visited John Dumont before he moved west.
Truth started dictating her memoirs to her friend Olive Gilbert, and in 1850 William Lloyd Garrison privately published her book, The Narrative of Sojourner Truth by Olive Gilbert: A Northern Slave. That same year, she purchased a home in Northampton for $300, and spoke at the first National Women’s Rights Convention in Worcester, Massachusetts.
In 1851, Truth left Northampton to join George Thompson, an abolitionist and speaker. In May, she attended the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio where she delivered her famous extemporaneous speech on women’s rights, later known as “Ain’t I a Woman”. The convention was organized by Hannah Tracy and Frances Dana Barker Gage, who both were present when Truth spoke. Different versions of Truth’s words have been recorded; with the first one published a month later by Marius Robinson, a newspaper owner and editor who was in the audience. Robinson’s recounting of the speech included no instance of the question “Ain’t I a Woman?” Twelve years later in May 1863, Gage published another, very different, version. In it, Truth’s speech pattern had characteristics of Southern slaves, and the speech included sentences and phrases that Robinson didn’t report. Gage’s version of the speech became the historic standard, and is known as “Ain’t I a Woman?” because that question was repeated four times. Truth’s own speech pattern was not Southern in nature, as she was born and raised in New York, and spoke only Dutch until she was nine years old.
In 1870, Truth tried to secure land grants from the federal government to former slaves, a project she pursued for seven years without success. While in Washington, D.C., she had a meeting with President Ulysses S. Grant in the White House. In 1872, she returned to Battle Creek and tried to vote in the presidential election, but was turned away at the polling place.
Truth spoke about abolition, women’s rights, prison reform, and preached to the Michigan Legislature against capital punishment. Not everyone welcomed her preaching and lectures, but she had many friends and staunch support among many influential people at the time, including Amy Post, Parker Pillsbury, Frances Gage, Wendell Phillips, William Lloyd Garrison, Laura Smith, Haviland Lucretia Mott, Ellen G. White and Susan B. Anthony
Several days before Truth died, a reporter came from the Grand Rapids Eagle to interview her. “Her face was drawn and emaciated and she was apparently suffering great pain. Her eyes were very bright and mind alert although it was difficult for her to talk.”Truth died on November 26, 1883, at her home in Battle Creek, Michigan at the age of 86. More than 3,000 people crowded into the Battle Creek Tabernacle to pay their last respects to the black heroine. Uriah Smith presided at the services. Ellen Bradbury Paulson, who attended the funeral, said of Sojourner Truth: “She was a good SDA.” She was buried at Oak Hill Cemetery in Battle Creek, beside other family members and many Seventh-day Adventist pioneers.
Reference: Sojourner Truth narrative by Olive Gilbert year 1850