Walk On

The Champions Who Walked Among Us

WEP CHALLENGE, AUGUST 18-20, 2021, FREEDOM’S CALLING, CREATIVE NON-FICTION By Pat Garcia, @pat_garcia, #WEP, #amwriting, #writingchallenge


Freedom’s Calling 

Was there no mercy for a child of nine years who, unlike others, was brought up in a home that had spoken a different language than English? Black skin, nappy hair that a fine-tooth comb couldn’t even go through, the child’s place was to listen and obey, but what if she didn’t understand?

Born in 1797 in upstate New York, if she had known the torment she would endure at nine years of age after being separated from her family, she probably would have cursed the day she was born and died. 

Purchased by a family who spoke no Dutch, the girl spoke no English. Her owners, infuriated at her lack of English, beat the language into her with rods and leather. She was not a person for them but an unruly, disobedient piece of property that did not understand and therefore could not follow orders. She became an It.

For It, lashings became a way of life; the beatings hurt and left intolerable bruises. But It found freedom in the God her masters sang about. Later, whenever they beat her, she would pray aloud, hoping the God she had come to believe in would rescue her from the torture. He did.

Sold to a tavern owner, she went to live in a bar and house of prostitution. The beatings stopped. Here, she saw the cruelties against women and the ruthlessness of men. She discovered her voice, and it dawned on her that she was not an It but a woman, a human being. 

Unfortunately, her owner sold her. Her respite in the bar only lasted one and a half years. The pause gave her time to refuel and strengthen herself for the unknown brutality that awaited her in the future. Being denied the right to marry the father of her firstborn child because a neighboring plantation owner owned him and opposed the marriage, due to the fact the newborn would not be his property, she had to marry a slave 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, but the woman who had endured so many hardships, and maintained her toughness, and her faith in the good of humanity was already free and had already started seeking to find her thirteen children––the children she had borne that were taken away and sold into slavery.

During the Great Spiritual Awakening, she had a life-changing experience, which would change the way she lived and changed 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.

She made her most famous speech in 1851 at the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention, held in Akron, Ohio. Let’s hear the address from the woman herself: 

***

Ain’t I a 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? 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.” 

***

Three days after Thanksgiving, on November 26, 1883, on a wintry, cold day in Michigan, this woman completed her mission at eighty-six years of age. She took flight. Isabella Baumfree, better known as Sojourner Truth, born and raised in slavery, died a free woman and Walked On!

Wishing all of you a lovely month. I hope to see you in October. 

Shalom aleichem,

Pat Garcia

52 Comments

  1. What an inspiring post. Thank you for sharing that!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, AJ. Sojourner Truth is an inspiring woman.
      Shalom aleichem

      Liked by 1 person

      • I agree. And you’re welcome.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you, A.J.
        Yes, she was. A woman that inspired and still does today.
        Have a great weekend.
        Shalom aleichem

        Liked by 1 person

  2. hilarymb

    Hi Pat – a brilliant post – thank you for introducing us to Sojourner Truth (Isabella Baumfree), I’d probably have never come across her and her story. So I’m pleased to see she’s been remembered today and is recognised for her pioneering freedom demands – and won’t be forgotten … as challenges in this world continue on. I won’t forget her … thank you for this excellent take on WEP’s Freedom of Speech. Hilary

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much, Hilary. I too am finding out so much through looking back into history. There is truly nothing new under the sun. What we are experiencing has been experienced somewhere in the past.
      Shalom aleichem

      Liked by 1 person

      • hilarymb

        It’s interesting … I’ve just been listening to a radio programme … where a man was on a peregrinating tour, also called a sojourner, to recover from losing his wife – strange but true. I’ll remember Sojourner now for many a year … have a good weekend – Hilary

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Wonderful post, Pat! I love the way you kept the identity of her until the end. Well done! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Yvette. That’s the creativity within me. I love the openness to explore.
      Shalom aleichem

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The cruelty of humanity is sometimes impossible to believe – especially when it’s the truth. We have to learn. We have to do better.
    Beautifully done, Pat!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Jemi. So true.
      And congratulations on becoming a board member and co-host on the WEP Team.
      Proud of you, Lady.
      Shalom aleichem

      Like

  5. Yes, Pat, I agree that this is an excellent post. It always shocks me that we are so cruel to people not like us. Take care and stay healthy during this time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, my dear Gwynn. Yes, the cruelty that is taking place is unbelievable but so has it been all through man’s existence on Planet Earth.
      You take care too. We are now in the beginning of the 4th wave of COVID here. Let’s hope it passes by soon.
      Shalom aleivhem

      Liked by 1 person

      • Man’s inhumanity to man HAS been horrendous. It is SO SAD!! Stay well!!

        Like

  6. Such inspiration, courage, and truth! Thank you for sharing Sojourner Truth!
    Excellent!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Yolanda. I appreciate your insight because that is what I wanted to achieve in this post.
      Shalom aleichem

      Like

  7. What an inspiring story!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, olga.
      Shalom aleichem

      Like

  8. And Isabella Baumfree takes her place among those who should be acknowledged and respected for their life and fortitude. Thanks, Pat!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Lee. Yes, she takes her place beside many who have seen beyond what they were experiencing in life and made it.
      Shalom aleichem

      Like

  9. Hi Pat. Thank you for giving us this inspiring story. That speech was splendid. So many places to pause and ponder. It is because some people chose to use their freedom of speech and their grit that we are where we are today and we will always owe our liberties to their courage.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Sonia, and Amen! I wholeheartedly agree that the people who chose to use their freedom of speech and their grit are the reason we are where we are today.
      Shalom aleichem

      Like

  10. Nilanjana Bose

    Inspirational, heartwarming and uplifting! What a magnificent take on the prompt, Pat!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Nilanjana. Your perception of the post means a lot to me.
      Shalom aleichem

      Like

  11. lgkeltner

    Sojourner Truth was such an inspirational woman. I can’t imagine enduring all that she did. And that is an amazing speech she gave. Thank you for sharing this!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can’t imagine the horror that Sojourner went through. The agony of prostitution which I am sure she experienced in that bar and prostitution house. Her children that she had to give up because she was a slave and the kids didn’t belong to her. Yet she believed in the goodness of humanity. She was quite a woman. Of that I am sure.
      Thanks for coming by, Laura.
      Shalom aleichem

      Like

  12. Oh Pat such a poignant yet inspiring story. Thirteen children sold into slavery, How appalling. But what a voice for women she was! Thanks for introducing us to her. A perfect entry for FREEDOM OF SPEECH.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Denise. I fell in love with this woman when I began to do research on her. I hold here in awe after reading that when she gave her speech, she wasn’t even allowed to walk through the front doors. She had to go around the back and enter the doors for slaves. I don’t know if I would have been able to speak so bravely and with so much love as she did after such a treatment.
      Shalom aleichem

      Like

  13. Thanks Patricia – I loved your retelling Sojourner Truth’s story – it can never be told often enough.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, My Dear Susan. I do agree. Her faith and her courage to find goodness in humanity should be a lesson for all.
      Take care and stay safe.
      Shalom aleichem

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Your entries are always informative, I learn such a lot from your words, sometimes I am shaking my head in disbelief as what happened in history and still does in this day and age in various ways.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Sally. What scares me today is that what happened then is being repeated. It seems as if we are a society that never learns.
      Shalom aleichem

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Thank you Pat. Such a great entry. Thank you for the reminder, that mighty women have lived before us and were brave beyond reason. As Gary Haugen says (writing to Christians, but you can substitute anyone:
    “And here is one choice that our Father wants us to understand as Christians – and I believe this is the choice of our age: Do we want to be brave or safe? Gently, lovingly, our heavenly Father wants us to know that we simply can’t be both.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Carole. I couldn’t have said it better. Do we want to be brave or safe. It is our choice and whatever our choice is will determine our destiny.
      Shalom aleichem

      Like

  16. An inspiring yarn, about the innate cruelty of man. Well done, Pat.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you very much, Christopher. Your take on what I wrote means a lot to me. I am smiling at the word, YARN because that is what telling a story is all about in my opinion. It is yarning words together that touch, encourage, and inspire the hearts of mankind.
      Shalom aleichem

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Thank you for your moving creative non-fiction. It brought up a lot of emotions in me and spoke many truths.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Kalpana. It makes me happy to know that it provoked you to think.
      Shalom aleichem

      Like

  18. Excellent history lesson! Great job.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much Jamie. I truly appreciate your coming by.
      Shalom aleichem

      Like

  19. christineeholman

    Wow! Pat,
    This is a powerful writing depicting a life well lived. It brings emotions that swells into tears. Letting me know that God is good, as she made it through very difficult circumstances. Well written! You were concise and emphasized the main points of her life.
    With Love, Chris Holman

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you my dear Sister. It is an honour to be able to write. Yes, Sojourner Truth was a great woman. And her faith in God brought her through.
      Shalom aleichem

      Like

  20. Samantha Nomsal

    Pat so brilliantly written. I love the way you tell the historical story is told and then Sojouner speaks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My Dear Samantha, I thank you. I am very thankful for the creative Spirit that lives within me. It is a joy to do that for which I have been called.
      Shalom aleichem

      Like

  21. Beautiful. You brought history to life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you jlennidorner. I appreciate what you said. That was my goal.
      Shalom aleichem

      Like

  22. hilarymb

    Hi Pat – congratulations on becoming WEP runner-up … I did so enjoy your telling of Sojourner’s story … she was one amazing lady. All the best – Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Hilary and all the best to you.
      Shalom aleichem

      Like

  23. Ann Biller

    Pat,
    Thanks for sharing this inspirational story and a piece of history. She was quite a woman… and there were many others just like her. Congratulations on getting Runner up! Keep on writhing such great stories!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, dear Sis. Yes, there are many other women and men that go through unbelievable hardship, and they render service and show love under tough circumstances, and they make the world a better place to live in. Shalom aleichem

      Like

  24. Dear Pat, as always, you inspire me and cause me to examine my own faith, whether you write fiction or nonfiction. Only a deep trust in God could have allowed Sojourner Truth to continue to have faith in people after what she endured. Surely, she has a place in Heaven’s Hall of Faithful Servants. Her courage and strength certainly helped make the world a better place. Thank you for sharing her story!

    Like

Trackbacks

  1. WEP’S AUGUST 2021 CHALLENGE WINNERS, @DeniseCCovey, @yolandarenee, @OlgaGodim, @LGKeltner,@jemifraser, @nilabose, @cleemckenzie, @NickPWilford #amwritingfiction, #IWSG | Walk On

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