Sojourner Truth, a 19thcentury women’s rights activist, was a preacher and abolitionist speaker in her time.
This is what I, Sojourner Truth, recall from the later years of my life. My callin,’ my preachin’, my activism, an’ service.
“RELIGION WITHOUT HUMANITY” In 1832, the Holy Spirit led me to a man named Robert Matthews. He called himself Matthias. Lord have mercy! At first glance, I can say this man was sent by God Himself to do His work. He really looked like one of Jesus’ disciples. I ended up workin’ with him at a religious community, The Kingdom. I learnt fast that Matthias was not of God. Matthias was always beatin’ me and giving me all th’ heavy work. After some stuff went over, I couldn’t believe how wrong I was about Matthias! I lost a lot of trustin’ in religious ministries. I tell you I can’t read a book, but I can read the people and religion without humanity is poor human stuff!
But all I ever had was Jesus. He loves me through it all! I can feel it! I can see it! His Holy Spirit leads me, and I must go because it ain’t about me. ’Spite it all, I was still tryin’ to find my way as a preachin’ black woman. I had my people in mind to keep me strivin’ for a better life for all us downtrodden folk.
“NAME CHANGE” I had my freedom, my freedom had me. I know freedom made me change, but I needs a new name now. Isabella don’t fit me no more, so I asked God to name me. The Lord gave me ‘Sojourner,’ because I was to travel up an’ down the land, showin’ the people their sins an’ bein’ a sign unto them. Afterwards, I told the Lord I wanted another name ’cause everybody else had two names, and the Lord gave me ‘Truth,’ because I was to declare the truth to people.
“CALLED”I felt a call to preach on June 1, 1843 and what a glory to God! This happened ’round Pentecost! The Holy Spirit led me east to preach and I let ’em all know my new name, Sojourner Truth. My preachin’ was full of my ’xperiences in life, the Bible, and my idea of God. I guess I had a strong presence ’bout myself because Imma six-foot-tall, outspok’n black woman speak’n up at a time when women didn’t speak none. Things was looking up from here!
“A WOMAN WHO SPEAKS?” In the 1840s, I rose to fame as a woman speaker and lecturer. I was the first woman to emerge as a prominent abolitionist speaker! In the 1850s, I was on tour travelin’ 22 states speakin’ on abolit’n, religion, women rights, and politics. Although I was an uncultured negro with little elegance, I found success along this route. I won’t ever ’fraid to put my ideas in the oddest forms…I was outspok’n and direct!
In 1851, I gave one of my greatest speeches at a Women’s Convention in Akron, Ohio, “Ain’t I A Woman?” In it, I was blunt and argued a woman’s rights. I felt the need to challenge folks’ mind at all times.
“HELPIN’ OUT WIT THE WAR” In 1861, the U.S. Civil War had broken out real bad and my health was sufferin.’ But ’spite all that, God still led me to good works. I helped recruit troops to fight for Union, I encouraged Union to make abolition one of their reasons for war, and even met good man Abe Lincoln! I helped to free people and helped them adjust to life outside of slavery. I taught them homemakin’ skills and gave them hospital patient care. I also advocated adding women’s rights to the reconstruction amendments.
“A TIME TO TRANSITION” I lived a good life, a trying life, a giving life, a courageous life, but a promising life. But now in 1881, my sufferin’ health is really getting to me. I caught diabetes but was being cared for my by daughters and doctor. I know I ain’t got too much longer to go, but I ain’t stressin’ ’bout it because I knows I completed God’s good work in my life. So now I want to tell y’all this: be a follower of Jesus. I ain’t goin’ to die, but I’m going home like a shooting star.