Tag: Sojourner Truth

BHM: “Ain’t I A Woman?” The Life and Legacy of Abolitionist and Activist Sojourner Truth

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

It’s February 1st, which means it is now officially Black History Month! Although we here at Good Black News celebrate the achievements of Black people every day of the year, it is always lovely when the rest of the U.S. joins in to do the same for at least 28 of them. So, for #BHM2019, GBN will be highlighting the achievements of black women, past and present, who have and are paving the way to a better future.

Sojourner Truth Google Doodle (via google.com)

And what better person to start with than today’s Google Doogle, abolitionist and women’s rights activist Sojourner Truth, who, with “Ain’t I A Woman?” gave one of the most powerful and unforgettable American speeches of all time on what we now call intersectionality?

In 2014, Sojourner Truth was included in Smithsonian Magazine’s list of the “100 Most Significant Americans of All Time” – yet the majority of Americans don’t know who she was, what she did, or they confuse her with Harriett Tubman.

Born Isabella (“Bell”) Baumfree circa 1797, Truth was born into slavery in Swartekill, Ulster County, New York, but escaped with her infant daughter to freedom in 1826. After going to court to recover her son, in 1828 she became the first black woman to win such a case against a white man.

She gave herself the name Sojourner Truth in 1843 after she became convinced that God had called her to leave the city and go into the countryside “testifying the hope that was in her.” Her best-known speech was delivered extemporaneously, in 1851, at the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio.

The speech became widely known during the Civil War by the title Ain’t I a Woman?,” a variation of the original speech re-written by someone else using a stereotypical Southern dialect. Truth was from New York and grew up speaking Dutch as her first language, and had a Dutch accent. During the Civil War, Truth helped recruit black troops for the Union Army; after the war, she tried unsuccessfully to secure land grants from the federal government for former slaves.  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sojourner_Truth)

There are a lot of other events and details in Truth’s life, of course, including collaboration with Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, President Abraham Lincoln and varied suffragists and women’s groups – Truth was known for her persuasive speeches against slavery as well as sexism – she even once defiantly opened her top and showed her breasts during a speech when she was accused of being a man.  

But what is remarkable and often not mentioned is that she is likely the first black woman in the U.S. to attain national fame (she sold photos and autographs of herself at events to make money “I sell the shadow to support the substance”) and the first to have her voice heard in America. It is also rather ironic that many of the records of her speeches were written by white men, and thus often altered to their perception of a black, female, former slave.

Some would quote that she had 13 children who were sold away from her (she had 5 and raised most of them) or say she was raving when she was calm. Truth’s was a 19th-century case of what is all too familiar today – media distortion by the dominant culture trying to make sense of “the other”- and in her instance, white men trying to process the experiences and truths of black women.

However, Truth was self-possessed – she claimed her ownership of herself by renaming herself and writing her own Narrative in 1850. Truth traveled and spoke to hostile, indifferent and embracing crowds, fought for women’s rights and black women’s right to vote, fought for land grants and reparations for former slaves, prison reform and the end of capital punishment.

Truth was in her 80s when she died at her home in Battle Creek, Michigan. In 1999, a 12-foot high monument was built in Battle Creek to honor her. The calendar of saints of the Episcopal Church remembers Truth annually, and the Lutheran Church calendar of saints remembers her on the same day as Harriet Tubman. 

In 2009, Truth became the first black woman honored with a bust in the U.S. Capitol.

Nancy Pelosi, Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton honoring Sojourner Truth as her likeness is added to U.S. Capitol (photo via sfgate.com)

To learn more about Truth, you can read her autobiography The Narrative of Sojourner Truth, the biography Sojourner Truth: A Life, A Symbol by Nell Irvin Painter, and for children, Who Was Sojourner Truth?  or My Name is Truth: The Life of Sojourner Truth written by Ann Turner and illustrated by James Ransome.

To watch a mini-biography on Truth on biography.com, go to: http://www.biography.com/video/sojourner-truth-mini-biography-11191875531

Abolitionist Sojourner Truth and Rutgers’ 1st Black Graduate James Carr Have Buildings Named After Them on Campus

via jbhe.com

Sojourner Truth

Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey has renamed its College Avenue Apartments to honor Sojourner Truth. Born into slavery, Sojourner Truth became a leading abolitionist and advocate for women’s rights.

While a slave, Sojourner Truth and her parents were owned by relatives of the first president of Rutgers University. The Sojourner Truth Apartments house 440 upper-class students.

Azra Dees, a sophomore in the School of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers, stated that “it shows a dedication to the history that we have and moving forward. And I’ll always know that I have a meaning behind the building that I’m living in, rather than just being a beautiful new building.”

James Dickson Carr (photo via libraries.rutgers.edu)

In addition, the former Kilmer Library on Rutgers-New Brunswick’s Livingston Campus in Piscataway has been renamed the James Dickson Carr Library after Rutgers’ first African-American graduate. James Dickson Carr completed his degree in 1892 and went on to attend Columbia Law School.

To read more, go to: Rutgers University Honors African Americans Who Are Part of Its History : The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education

Abolitionist and Activist Sojourner Truth Honored as “Tail Fin Hero” by Norwegian Air

(photo via Norwegian Air)

by Judy Rife via recordonline.com

Norwegian Air will honor Sojourner Truth, the abolitionist and activist who was born a slave in Ulster County, NY, as a “tail fin hero.” Truth’s likeness will appear on the fourth Boeing 737 MAX 8 that Norwegian will take delivery of this month.

The airline, which began flights between Stewart International Airport and Europe in June, regularly honors historical figures from the countries where it operates on the tail fins of its aircraft. Last month, it honored its first American, Benjamin Franklin, as well as Sir Freddie Laker from England and Tom Crean from Ireland on the first three of the six MAXs that it will receive from Boeing this year. The remaining two planes will also honor Americans.

The six planes will be used on Norwegian’s new routes between three East Coast airports and Europe, including Stewart Airport, T.F. Green in Providence, R.I., and Bradley International in Windsor Locks, Conn. In announcing the selection of Truth, Thomas Ramdahl, Norwegian Air’s chief commercial officer, called her “an inspiration and a pioneer” for people around the world.“She is someone who pushed boundaries and challenged the establishment in more ways than one,″ said Ramdahl in a statement.

Truth, among the Smithsonian’s “100 Most Significant Americans of All Time,” was born into slavery as Isabella Baumfree around the turn of the 18th century, escaped in 1826 and changed her name to Sojourner Truth in 1843. A gifted orator, Truth is best known for her dedication to the abolition of slavery and women’s rights, but she also was a proponent of prison reform, property rights and universal suffrage. She died in 1883.

Source: Norwegian Air pays tribute to abolitionist Sojourner Truth

University of California, San Diego Honors Sojourner Truth with Life-Size Bronze Statue

Sojourner Truth Statue at UCSD

The University of California, San Diego, recently unveiled a new life-size bronze sculpture of Sojourner Truth. Born into slavery, Sojourner Truth became a leading abolitionist and advocate for women’s rights.

The statue, displayed on the campus of Marshall College, is the work of local artist Manuelita Brown, a graduate of the University of California, San Diego. Brown stated that “Sojourner Truth serves as a drum major for social justice, equity and voting rights. It is my hope that the brilliant students and graduates of UC San Diego will be reminded each day as they walk past her of what they can accomplish with a superior education.”

At the ceremony unveiling the new sculpture, Pradeep K. Khosla, chancellor of the University of California San Diego noted that “centrally located, hundreds of campus and local community members will pass by Sojourner Truth each day. Her presence will serve to start conversations about who she was and what she stood for, a reminder of her influence and the need to continually address racial and gender equality.”

According to the latest U.S. Department of Education figures, Blacks make up only 1 percent of the undergraduate student body at the University of California, San Diego. Under state law, race cannot be considered in admissions decisions at the university.

article via jbhe.com

Unsung Black Women in History: Biddy Mason, from Slavery to One of Los Angeles’ Wealthiest Black Entrepreneurs

BIDDY MASON  CALIFORNIA SUED FOR HER FREEDOM_jpgFrom Clutch Magazine:

Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Madame CJ Walker—the list of women typically mentioned during Black History Month is incredibly short. But this year, CLUTCH will celebrate the achievements of black women you may not have ever heard about.

First up: Bridget “Biddy” Mason.

Bridget “Biddy” Mason was born on August 15, 1818 in Georgia. Mason was born into slavery and before her death in 1891 she become one of Los Angeles’ wealthiest Black residents and philanthropists.

After working on a plantation in Mississippi owned by Robert Marion Smith, Mason migrated to Utah with the Smiths, who had converted to Mormonism. During the grueling two-thousand-mile journey, Mason herded cattle, prepared meals, and worked as a nurse and midwife. In 1851, Smith moved his brood, including his enslaved servants, to San Bernardino, California.

California was admitted to the Union as a free state in 1850 and forbade slavery, because of this, Smith planned to relocate to Texas to continue holding slaves. However, in 1856 Mason petitioned the court and sued Smith for her freedom. She won her case, securing not only her freedom, but also that of her daughters, as well as 10 other Black women and their children.

Continue reading “Unsung Black Women in History: Biddy Mason, from Slavery to One of Los Angeles’ Wealthiest Black Entrepreneurs”

27 Years Ago Today: U.S. Postal Service Issues Sojourner Truth Stamp

On Feb. 4, 1986, the U.S. Postal Service issued a commemorative postage stamp honoring abolitionist and women’s rights activist Sojourner Truth as part of its Black Heritage series.

Sojurner Truth was born Isabella Baumfree in 1797 on the Hardenbergh plantation in upstate New York. In 1826, Truth managed to escape to freedom and became known as a fearless advocate for enslaved African-Americans and women. 

She is best known for her “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech that challenged gender and racial inequalities. During the Civil War, Truth became involved in the war effort by recruiting black troops for the Union Army. After the war, she tried unsuccessfully to secure land grants from the federal government for former slaves.

article by Naeesa Aziz via bet.com

Multi-Cultural Manhattan School Teaches Youths the Value of Inclusiveness, Democracy, Justice & Freedom

Screen Shot 2013-01-29 at 5.26.20 PM

Ideal School of Manhattan administrators (l-r) Angela Bergeson, Head of School; David Byrnes, director of institutional equity, and Michelle Smith, school co-founder watch second-graders at work on a Civil Rights Museum project

A Civil Rights museum like no other is going to pop up in Manhattan later this week.  This one is meant to change the future.  Students at the Ideal School of Manhattan were busy constructing exhibits for the museum, a yearly event at the seven-year-old, independent K-to-eighth grade school.

Head of School Angela Bergeson said the museum started out as a yearly school assembly on civil rights, but became so popular that “we decided to devote the whole morning to the museum so that families could go room to room and see all the curriculum pieces, the writing, readings and plays.”

Each grade in the school is assigned an iconic figure from the Civil Rights or non-violence movements, along with an associated word around which the students create exhibits.

Continue reading “Multi-Cultural Manhattan School Teaches Youths the Value of Inclusiveness, Democracy, Justice & Freedom”