Glorying in Tribulation: The Lifework of Sojourner Truth

By Erlene Stetson; Linda David | Go to book overview

Three
The Claims of Human Brotherhood

We meet the monster prejudice everywhere.

Clarissa C. Lawrence

Proceedings of the Anti-Slavery Convention, 18391

He try to make you think he everywhere. Soon as you think he everywhere, you think he God

Alice Walker, The Color Purple2

It was in the social and religious turmoil and political ferment of New York City in the 1830s that Sojourner Truth matured the responses that made her a powerful antislavery speaker, a radical critic of racial prejudice, including racism in the woman's rights movement, and, in her seventies, a crusader for the resettlement of freedpeople on government land, not in Liberia, but in the United States that they had helped to build.

Truth's entry into the free black community in New York City in 1829 and her departure in 1843 coincided with two turning points in its history, which were in turn reflected in her own.3 In 1827, during the great parade down Broadway celebrating the New York Emancipation Act, waves of marchers under painted banners led by the New York African Society for Mutual Relief, the Clarkson Benevolent Society, and the Wilberforce Benevolent Society were cheered from the sidewalks by black women from "every state in the Union," from West India, and by "hundreds who had survived the middle passage." Freed people marched through the city under banners lettered with the word African. "The people of those days," it was remembered, "rejoiced in their nationality and hesitated not to call each other Africans or descendants of Africa."4

-57-

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