Sojourner Truth (ca. 1797–1883) was an evangelist, abolitionist, and women’s rights advocate. She was born into slavery under the name Isabella Baumfree in New York. In 1826, just before slavery was abolished in New York, she escaped her owner and eventually made her way to New York City, where she associated with a group of zealous evangelicals. In 1843, Isabella felt called to God’s service and took the name Sojourner Truth. She left New York and traveled to Northampton, Massachusetts. There she met reformers such as William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass. In 1850, Truth published her Narrative of Sojourner Truth. Because Truth was illiterate, she had dictated the book to Olive Gilbert, a women’s rights activist she met in Northampton. The book met with great success and made Truth a nationally known abolitionist. The next year, Truth gave her “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech at a women’s rights convention in Ohio. During the Civil War, she raised money for black troops. In 1864 President Lincoln received her at the White House. She continued preaching and agitating for abolition and women’s rights until her retirement to a Quaker commune in 1875.

 

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