Faithful Heroes: Sojourner Truth
Sojourner Truth went where she felt God was calling her.
She was one of a dozen children born to James and Elizabeth Bomefree and given the birth name of Isabella Baumfree. She was born around 1797 in Swartekill, New York and went through four owners throughout her childhood. She only spoke Dutch until after she was nine years old.
She fell in love with a slave named Robert, but his owner would not allow them to be together. Their experience is said to “haunt her for the rest of her life”. She married another slave, Thomas, and bore five children.
Shortly before the New York Emancipation Act went into effect in 1827, she walked off from where she served and a couple, the Van Wagenens, bought out her services. She lived and worked for the couple, having her youngest child with her.
When she discovered her five-year-old son was illegally sold, she took the issue to court in 1828, becoming the first black woman to take a white man to court and win.
While living with the Van Wagenens she became a Christian. She made friends and worked for and with other believers in the coming years.
On June 1, 1843, she changed her name to Sojourner Truth. “She told friends: “The Spirit calls me, and I must go” and left to make her way traveling and preaching about the abolition of slavery.”
In 1850, she dictated her memoir to a friend and the book was published and bought her own home. In 1854, she spoke at the first National Women’s Rights Convention in Massachusetts. She became a popular speaker on the circuit.
During the Civil War, she helped “recruit black troops for the Union Army” and met President Abraham Lincoln in 1864.
She died at her home on November 26, 1883.