“Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants
thereof” —Sojourner Truth’s banner
Circa 1797–November 26, 1883
SOJOURNER TRUTH was born a Northern slave. She was illiterate but had a powerful memory. With her strong speaking and singing voice, she was a tenacious advocate for the abolition of slavery and for the rights of both black people and women. She was able to pack halls from Massachusetts to Michigan and braved mobs, stones, even death threats. Her height — she was six feet tall — her deep ebony skin and her equally deep voice gave her an imposing presence. Many of her opponents claimed she was really a man in disguise. At one meeting a persistent heckler, a medical doctor, suggested she prove him wrong by baring her breast in privacy to some of the white women present. Her response was to bare her breast to the whole congregation.
So who was Sojourner Truth?