The Champions Who Walked Among Us – Article 3 – The Sojourner
- What do you do when you are subject to the whims and fantasies of others?
- Who do you run to when you see a double standard being lived?
Black skinned, nappy haired, this child’s place was to listen and obey, but what happens if she doesn’t understand? Is there no mercy for a child of nine years who, unlike others, was brought up in a home where a different language had been spoken?
Born in 1797 in upstate New York, the newborn baby had had no idea of her destiny; she had had no idea of the suffering she would endure at the tender age of nine years; no idea she would be separated from her family and tossed like many others of her race onto the market block to be sold like cattle.
Things went well for her until that fateful day when she became an It. Sold to a family who spoke no Dutch, she spoke no English and entered the pits of hell. Infuriated at her lack of English, they beat her! With rods and leather, they beat her! She was not a person but an It, an unruly, disobedient piece of property, which could not obey their orders, because It did not understand, so they beat It. After all, It had to function.
- What do you do when a piece of property doesn’t function as it should?
The piece of It, disguised as a small child, finally found freedom in God. The lashings kept coming; they hurt and left intolerable bruises, but she would pray aloud as she cried out, hoping the God she had come to believe in would rescue her from the pain. He did.
Sold to a tavern owner, she worked in a bar with drunkards and women who were forced to enter into the world of prostitution, but the beatings stopped. Here she probably saw the miserable sufferings of women and the ruthlessness of men; here she discovered her voice to speak out; here she discovered she was not an It but a human being–– who was being denied the right to live freely.
Unfortunately, she was sold again. Her respite had only lasted one and a half year, but it gave her time to refuel and strengthen herself for the brutality that awaited her. Being denied the right to marry the father of her first born child, because he was owned by a neighboring plantation owner, who was opposed to the marriage due to the fact the newborn would not be his property, she was forced to marry a slave that was owned by her new master, an older man who impregnated her four times.
On July 4, 1827, the state of New York issued its own Emancipation Proclamation and freed all slaves. What had been started in 1799, by the legislature of the state of New York, to abolish slavery became a reality, but the woman who had endured so many hardships, and maintained her toughness, and her faith in the good of mankind was already free, and had already started seeking to find her children––the children she had born who had been taken away and sold into slavery.
During the Great Spiritual Awakening, she had a life changing experience, which would not only change the way she lived, but would also change her name. This woman became a friend of the progressive Quakers; she spoke out for the Civil War, recruited black men to fight for the Union, worked in government refugee camps for freed slaves, and spoke out for women’s rights.
Perhaps her most famous speech was made in 1854 at the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention, held in Akron Ohio. This speech characterizes her person as no other speech can. She said, and please, allow me to quote her entire speech: Ain’t I Woman*
“Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that ‘twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what’s all this here talking about?
That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it – and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?
Then they talk about this thing in the head; what’s this they call it? [member of audience whispers, “intellect”] That’s it, honey. What’s that got to do with women’s rights or negroes’ rights? If my cup won’t hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn’t you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?
Then that little man in black there, he says women can’t have as much rights as men, ’cause Christ wasn’t a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.
If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.
Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain’t got nothing more to say.”
What a woman! One of the forerunners of freedom, she did not hesitate to pay the price.
On November 26, 1883, three days after Thanksgiving, at the age eighty-six years of age, the sojourner decided to take her flight. It was a wintry, cold day in Michigan, but the sojourner had completed her mission. Isabella Baumfree, better known as Sojourner Truth, born and raised in slavery, died a free woman and had Walked On!
Walk On! All of you who are sojourners, I say, Walk On!
*The speech by Sojourner Truth has been entered exactly as it was spoken in 1851. Grammatical corrections have not made.
 Paul Halsall, Fordham University, August 1997, http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/sojtruth-woman.asp
- Posted in: historical
- Tagged: Ain't I a Woman?, Akron Ohio, Christ, Emancipation Proclamation, Fordham University, God, New York, Sojourner Truth, Woman, Women Rights, Women's rights
Great, great story, Patricia! Wow! “Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.” So much power in her words and I had never heard of her so thank you. Thank you!
Thank you! I am always blessed when I read your comments as well as when I read your blogs. You are a blessing to my life.
As you are to me, Patricia. As you are to me. 🙂
Great article! I really enjoyed it.
Thank you so much for reading my article and I wish you all the best.
WOW!!! Thank you so very much for that message. I do not see it as a blog or an article, I see it as a message to women. A message stating that we as WOMEN, be it Black, African American, White, African, Asian, Hispanic, Arabic or what ever nationality, we are sojourners in this world today. We need to put God first and let Him guide and direct us as we fight the battles here on this earthly place so that we as sojourners here will have complete freedom to be women; Godly women. Because we were made to walk beside man not in front of or behind. We are his helpmate.
Thank you very much! This is a great honor and a confirmation of my writing ability. I love writing about inspirational, historical, and compassionate women who have overcome much and laid down the fundamentals bricks of freedom that we women are enjoying today. There are women all over the world who, inspite of their background, have had the guts to stand up and say, I am Woman. Some women are still dying or being beaten, and treated unworthy and yet they stand. Let us be thankful that we were born in a country, where those battles have been won.
Once again, thank you.
Well put Carolyn!!
Right now I’m commenting entirely what I feel, what your post had made emotionally inside of me: a “twist” – in an entirely positive kind of way.
Yes, I did enjoy reading it – yes, it was well written, as I’m used to get it from you – but this article at the moment made me feel devastated, and cryfully desperate – and turned my emotions into hope!
Thank you for this. It’s just what I needed now.
My Dear Ranni,
I know exactly what you mean. I cried tears of hope and joy as I researched this woman’s life. I was kind of down in the dumps myself and her life story opened the curtain so that I could see the light that I needed to see.
Thank you for taking the time to read it. Knowing where you are at this moment emotionally, I am even more honored that you read it.
You are an inspiration and an enrichment to my life.
Oh Patricia, I am still crying after reading this post. I can’t stop! You have truly moved me beyond words. The words I can seem to muster are that you are an inspiration to me. I am thoroughly blessed to have come to meet you and I think you are amazing. Thank you, thank you, thank you, for just being the wonderful child of God that you are. Oh my, I can’t quit the crying, what a mess I am! All I really want to say is You Go Girl! I am loving every bit of your blog and I can’t wait to read more. I have subscribed again to your posts since my last email address got shut down and I can’t imagine my life without your presence. Your blog brings me so much inspiration, hope, joy, tears (the good kind), courage, enthusiasm, peace, love, grace and strength. It is an honor to know such a strong beautiful woman that is you! You have come so far and trough so much only to become a great help to others when someone else that may have been through the same things would have given up by now. Well, not you, you have proven that there are people out there that despite their horrible upbringing become miraculous people of great faith. I am so happy that God has placed you in my life to help show me that my struggles are nothing compared to others. I am honestly moved and touched by your story. I love everything you do and I pray that not for one second you ever doubt yourself because you are amazing! I honor the spirit that lives in you and I look forward to learning more about the beautiful woman that you are. Please don’t ever stop! Love yourself because you are so worth it!
Much love and abundant blessings,
P.S. keep smiling girl because you have made this torn and tattered heart smile!
This morning I woke up and looked into my computer and saw the posts from you and was truly thankful for the grace that I enjoy through my LORD. Thank you. I can only say thank you. Each post that I write takes me on a journey in that person’s life and I am humbled at what they experienced and come out strengthened through the knowledge and wisdom that I have gained. However, the most important ingredient in my writing is the Holy Spirit. He gives my words life as He writes through me. The word is life and to realize that means we writers have an awesome responsibility to build up instead of tearing down, to encourage instead of being critical, to spread love instead of hate, to walk on moving in the faith of God’s empowering grace to feed people dreams and hope in the chosen purpose by God for our lives. That is my belief and I am thankful that God has given me the eyes to see my life this way.
Thank you very much and I wish you a beautiful start in the new week.
You are truly amazing. I too let God do the talking for me when I write, comment, speak, and do everything else. If is wasn’t for the precious blood that was shed by our savior, Jesus Christ, I know I would not be here today. For it is through him that I am saved and so are you. I am thoroughly blessed to have met you and am so happy to know that you and I will end up in the same place when this journey in the flesh comes to an end. You inspire me and thank you for that! Keep doing what you do and I know there will be many a crown waiting for you in heaven.
I feel the same Kimmy! Thanks for expressing this so beautifully!
Thanks for the history lesson – an amazing story!
THank you for comments and for your loyalty by reading my blog postings. It is nice great knowing you are a part of writer’s gateway.
Thanks so much. You reek of positivity
Thank you AGAIN Patricia! What an extraordinary story and thank you so much for your research and highlighting them. As women, we can only be moved ad inspired and keep on walking. How wonderful it would be if men were to read these amazing blogs! I love your battle cry ‘Walk On!’ – it immediately resonates and makes me feel that no matter what, one must Walk On!
What a privilege this is to ‘find’ you! Thank you thank you and hope all is well.