Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Women's Rights: Sojourner Truth - Seneca Falls, NY

Women's Rights
Sojourner Truth
Seneca Falls, NY

N 42° 54.637 W 076° 48.010

Short Description: 

A statue of African-American abolitionist and women's rights activist is located in the Women's Rights National Historic Park at 136 Fall Street, Seneca Falls, NY.

Long Description:

Sojourner Truth was was an African-American abolitionist and women's rights activist. In 1797, she was born a slave in Ulster County New York and given the name Isabella . She worked for a series of five masters while raising five children. When slavery ended in New York in 1827, she settled in New York City.

A deeply religious woman, Isabella took the name Sojourner Truth after God spoke to her. She was 46 years old when she set out walking and preaching through Long Island and Connecticut. Eventually she reached Massachusetts and joined the Northampton Association of Education and Industry. There she began speaking out for the abolition of slavery and for women's rights.

After the disbandment of the Northampton Association, Samuel L. Hill and others founded the factory village of Florence. With Hill's help, Sojourner Truth bought her own home on Park Street. Unable to read or write, Truth dictated her story to a neighbor. The Narrative of Sojourner Truth was published in 1850. She became well-known as an orator, singer, evangelist, abolitionist and reformer, selling her Narrative and photographs of herself throughout the nation. Her best-known speech on gender inequalities, "Ain't I a Woman?", was delivered in 1851 at the Ohio Women's Rights Convention.

In 1857, she moved to Harmonia, MI. During the Civil War she helped recruit black troops for the Union Army. In 1867 she moved to Battle Creek, MI and continued her mission as an advocate for women's rights. She died on November 26, 1883. A life size bronze statue of Sojourner Truth is part of an exhibit about her life on the second floor of the Women's Rights National Historic Park in Seneca Falls. Sojourner Truth is wearing a long dress, buttoned waistcoat, a shawl and a bonnet. She is leaning on a cane held in her right hand. In front of the statue is a panel with the inscription:

Ain't I a Woman?

One of the most powerful antislavery and women's rights speakers, Sojourner Truth, was born a slave in New York. Profoundly Christian, she adopted her name when visions guided her to travel and testify for the Lord.

In a speech before the women's rights convention in Akron, Ohio in 1851, she pointed out the problem with true womanhood: it did not describe the experience of most women. Although a powerful ideal, it was only an ideal.

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