Born Isabella Baumfree in 1797, Sojourner Truth started life as an enslaved person. She did not learn English until she was sold to a family that punished her for not speaking English. She would be sold several times. Moving from family to family was difficult.
She married another enslaved person named Thomas. They had four children together, Peter, James, Elizabeth, and Sophia.
She was promised freedom, but that promise would be broken. Determined to have her freedom in whatever way she could, she ran away. Her former master would eventually find her, but another family paid for her to have her freedom.
After securing her freedom, she changed her name and became a traveling preacher. She would talk about the rights of women and enslaved people.
On November 26, 1883, in Battle Creek, Michigan, Sojourner passed at the age of 86. She will always be remembered as a woman who stood up for truth.
This video is a good introduction to Sojourner Truth. She is an excellent example of a Black leader to be celebrated during Black History Month or any time during the year. This video opens the door to having a discussion about the realities of the life of the enslaved people prior to the civil war. You can also teach about the process people went through to gain their freedom even after the Emancipation Proclamation and Civil War was over. It wasn’t like today where we know something has happened in minutes. It took time for the news to travel and the laws to be enforced. This is a good resource for studying these topics.
Sojourner Truth’s story involves topics that may be difficult or inappropriate for some students (specifically, sexual exploitation and religious themes). This video does touch on some of those but does not go into detail. Please review this video in its entirety to determine if it is a good fit for your class.
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