Born into slavery in Swartekill, New York as Isabella Baumfree in 1797, and adopting the name Sojourner Truth in 1843, Truth was an American abolitionist and women's rights activist. In 1928 she went to court to recover her son who had been illegally sold to slavers in Alabama. She was the first black woman to win such a case against a white man. Her best known speech, called "Ain't I a Woman?" was delivered extemporaneously at an Ohio Women's Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio. Since there were no recording devices, people wrote down what they could from the speech. Watch Alayna Vernon deliver one version of this speech in the video below.
This lesson plan created by the National Park Service is designed for grades 4-8 and compares and contrasts different versions of he speech.
Books in our SORA Collection
The NY Reads Collection offers simultaneous use of the biography of Sojourner Truth as an audiobook:
So Tall Within by Gary D. Schmidt Sojourner Truth was born into slavery but possessed a mind and a vision that knew no bounds. So Tall Within traces her life from her painful childhood through her remarkable emancipation to her incredible leadership in the movement for rights for both women and African Americans.
We have three more books in our Monroe One BOCES SORA account:
Sojourner Truth by Peter Merchant Sojourner Truth had a tough childhood. She was born a slave, and many of the families she worked for treated her poorly. But when she was finally freed, Sojourner used her life to teach others about women's rights and the power of freedom.
Votes for Women! by Winifred Conkling
From Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who founded the suffrage movement at the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention, to Sojourner Truth and her famous "Ain't I a Woman?" speech, to Alice Paul, arrested and force-fed in prison, this is the story of the American women's suffrage movement and the private lives that fueled its leaders' dedication. Votes for Women! explores suffragists' often powerful, sometimes difficult relationship with the intersecting temperance and abolition campaigns, and includes an unflinching look at some of the uglier moments in women's fight for the vote.
Bold & Brave by Kirsten Gillibrand
Here are the stories of ten leaders who strove to win the right to vote for American women-a journey that took more than seventy years of passionate commitment. The suffragists included are: Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Jovita Idar, Alice Paul, Inez Milholland, Ida B. Wells, Lucy Burns, and Mary Church Terrell.
Knitting and Revolution
If you really want to go down an interesting historical rabbit hole, peruse some of the following articles linking the past to the present via a strand of yarn.
This video from Mini BIO presents a brief biography of Sojourner Truth (1797-1883), who was a young slave, then a free black woman, and eventually an abolitionist and a traveling preacher for women's rights. During the Civil War, she met President Abraham Lincoln and fought to have blacks recognized as soldiers for the North.
(1797-1883) Born a slave, anti-slavery activist Sojourner Truth was sold and separated from her family before black emancipation. Bolstered by her unwavering faith in God, she became a traveling preacher, advocating the end of slavery and the need for women's rights. Truth published the story of her life as a slave, roused support for the North during the Civil War, counseled former slaves and initiated a campaign to help blacks obtain federal grants for farmland. One of America's first female black activists, Truth remains a guiding light to all those who speak out on human rights. Part of the Black Americans of Achievement Video Collection that celebrates the most influential African Americans in history.
''Expansion and Reform'' explores changes in the United States in the decades following the War of 1812. This clip discusses the anti-slavery actions of William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman and other abolitionists.
Presented by James Avery, ''A History of Black Achievement in America'' highlights the many contributions of African Americans that have influenced our culture, enriched our society and shaped the history of the United States. This program examines the fight to end slavery in the United States, and the establishment of citizenship and civil rights for African Americans.