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One of the most famous and admired African-American women in U.S. history, Sojourner Truth sang, preached, and debated at camp meetings across the country, led by her devotion to the antislavery movement and her ardent pursuit of women’s rights. Born into slavery in 1797, Truth fled from bondage some 30 years later to become a powerful figure in the progressive movements reshaping American society.The Narrative of Sojourner Truth is the gripping autobiographical account of Sojourner Truths life as a slave in pre-Civil War New York State, and her eventual escape to Freedom. Since Sojourner could neither read or write, she dictated her story to Olive Gilbert after they met at a Women’s Rights rally. The Narrative was first published in 1850, and was widely distributed by the Abolitionist Movement. It was one of the catalysts for the rise of anti-slavery public opinion in the years leading up to the Civil War. Though Olive Gilbert’s writing about Sojourner takes on a patronizing tone at times (a weakness of some Abolitionists), The Narrative of Sojourner Truth remains a moving and historic document, chronicling the struggles of African-Americans under slavery and the life of a truly remarkable woman. (Introduction by Marc Kockinos)
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Sojourner Truth, born into slavery in the late 1790s as Isabella Baumfree, was the first African-American woman to win a court case when she reclaimed her son from the man who sold him back into slavery after his emancipation. After changing her name, Truth travelled as a Methodist preacher and spoke out regularly on behalf of the abolitionist cause. In 1851, at the Ohio’s Women Rights Convention, Truth delivered her most well-known speech “Ain’t I a Woman?” During her lifetime, Truth spoke out about many causes, including women’s suffrage, prison reform, property rights for former slaves, and she encouraged African-Americans to enlist in the Union Army. Her activism led her to make connections with many of her contemporary abolitionists such as Harriet Beecher Stowe and Frances Gage. In 1850, Truth’s dictated her memoir, The Narrative of Sojourner Truth, to her friend Olive Gilbert and the title was soon met with acclaim by abolitionist readers and supporters. Truth died in 1883 and was buried alongside her family in Battle Creek, Michigan.
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