Who Is Sojourner Truth?


Quick Answer

Sojourner Truth was an African-American abolitionist and women's rights activist during the 19th century. Her given name was actually Isabella and she adopted the name "Sojourner Truth" in 1843.

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Sojourner Truth was born into slavery in Ulster County, New York. The exact date of her birth is not known, although it is estimated that she was born around 1797. During her time as a slave, she had five children with a fellow slave and at least three of these children were sold away from her. Truth escaped slavery in 1827 by seeking refuge with a Quaker family known as the Van Wageners.

She returned to New York City after the mandatory emancipation of all slaves in New York state. She began working as a domestic while learning about evangelical religion and getting involved in moral reform. In the 1840s she began working with Garrison abolitionists in Massachusetts. She became known as a powerful and passionate speaker and became a wandering storyteller. She is best known for her "Ain't I a Woman?" speech, which was delivered at a women's convention in Ohio in 1851.

During the Civil War she collected supplies for African-American regiments and advocated for newly freed slaves during Reconstruction. She died in Battle Creek, Mich., on November 26, 1883.

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