Sunday, 13 September 2009

Sojourner Truth

I'm ashamed to admit that until today I knew nothing of the remarkable Isabella Baumfree (1797-1883).

Born into slavery in Swartekill, New York, Isabella grew up to be a fearless campaigner for abolition, temperance and the rights of women, choosing to rename herself Sojourner Truth.

Her lifespan stretched from the earliest years of the United States to the reconstruction following the devastation of the Civil War. My two great-aunts were young children at the time of her death.

Her activism was based firmly on her Christian faith.

I guess that Truth, as an old woman, may have felt a certain satisfaction at the progress that had been made in her lifetime. Never again in the United States would her experience as a nine-year-old be repeated: she was sold as a 'job lot' along with 100 sheep - for $100.

She's possibly best remembered for her speech 'And ain't I a woman?'

A great woman whose name should be better known.

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