Black History Month – February 4, 2019
Written by KROV News Department on February 4, 2019
Today on February 4th we look at a powerful woman who forever changed history.
Isabella Baumfree was born in 1797 and later changed her name to Sojourner Truth. Truth died on November 26, 1883. Her age is not certain, records show that she was 86 at the time of her death, but engraved on her tombstone it states she was 105.
Baumfree was sold into slavery at the age of 9 for the price of $100 to John Neely. By the time she was 13 she had been sold twice, John Dumont and his second wife Elizabeth were her last owners.
At the age of 18 she was forced to marry another slave also owned by Dumont. She bored 5 children.
Dumont promised Isabella that he would grant her freedom on July 4th, 1826 “if she would do well and be faithful.” When the day arrived, he had a change of heart and didn’t grant her freedom.
Isabella completed her obligations but escaped with her infant daughter as fast as she could walk. She later said, “I didn’t run off, for I thought that wicked, but I walked off, believing that to be all right.”
In New York she and her daughter were taken in by Isaac and Maria Van Wagenen. When Dumont found her, the Wagenen bought her services for $20 until the New York Anti-Slavery Law took effect in 1827, emancipating all slaves. Dumont agreed.
After the Anti-Slavery was passed, Dumont illegally sold her 5 year old son. She filed a lawsuit against him with the help of the Van Wagenens. A few months later, she won her lawsuit and regained her son back. She was the first black woman to sue a white man.
Due to the spiritual influence by the Van Wagenens, Isabella became a fervent Christian and a desire to preach. 1843, she changed her name to Sojourner Truth and embarked on a journey to preach and speak the truth.
In 1851, at the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention Truth gave her most famous speech about equal rights for black women, in which she used the rhetorical question, “Ain’t I A Woman?” where she pointed out the discriminations she experienced.
Truth’s life is best summed up by her own words “Children, who made your skin white? Was it not God? Who made mine black? Was it not the same God? Am I to blame, therefore, because my skin is black?….Does not God love colored children as well as white children? And did not the same Savior die to save the one as well as the other?”