Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum
Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum
|Context||Sojourner Truth was a determined abolitionist and women's rights advocate.|
|Audience||For the speeches, the audience was those in the room when she spoke.|
|Purpose||To persuade listeners to her point of view|
Concern over slavery often led to a sensitivity to how women were oppressed. Sojourner Truth was one of the most determined and outspoken advocates of both reforms—though some white advocates of women's rights felt that black women should not speak at "their" conventions.
Born as Isabella, a slave in New York state, she escaped from slavery in 1827, one year before the state abolished it. She worked as a domestic to support her young children and joined a religious commune. Commanded by God to travel and preach in 1843, she changed her name to Sojourner Truth. Blessed with a low and powerful voice, Truth was a compelling speaker.
English was not Truth's first language and she could not read. We are left with other people's accounts of her speeches. The first account was written, perhaps from memory, some thirty years after Truth spoke. The writer, Frances Gate, chaired the 1851 Women's Rights Convention, at which Truth gave this speech. The second account was transcribed at the time of Truth's 1853 speech in New York City.