As February is Black History Month, I thought it appropriate to talk about Sojourner Truth. Sad to say, the last time I gave this remarkable lady some serious thought was when I had to do a report on her in elementary school. But I purchased her life story recently and have just begun reading it.
Even though I am far from finished with this narrative, I am just floored at the tenacity of humans. Particularly for one that was a slave; a woman; who initially did not speak English – she spoke Low Dutch, the language of her first masters; separated from her family; sexually abused by her female master; and beat mercilessly by the male ones. She rose to be an activist, amazing litigant, landowner, mother, and minister.
All of this and when she had barely obtained her own freedom, had the nerve to fight for her son, who had been sold to slave owners down South and then fought to ride public transportation – way before Rosa Parks, ya’ll. Again and again, she used the court system to win victories for herself and her people. Incredibly, she did not lose her faith in God and would manage to see the good and look for hope in her situation.
Many people talk about her “Ain’t I a Woman Speech” she gave while in Ohio, circa 1827. But I was equally impressed with how she shut down pro-slavery Democrats at an antislavery meeting in Indiana in 1858. The situation went something like this: in an effort to shame her and make a mockery of the antislavery issue, these protesters shouted that she was not a woman at all, that she really was a man. This was a common tactic used by certain men when women (black or white) spoke out against injustice.
In a word, Ms. Sojourner clicked and went off. Basically, she read them the riot act about their own behavior and informed them that her breasts had suckled many a white children while her own suffered. She ripped opened her blouse and asked them did they want to suck them as well!
Oh, snap! No she di’n’t!! But yes she did! Ms. Sojourner was baaaaad –and that was good. I couldn’t let this month get away with me not posting something about this profound lady. I have a renewed appreciation and indebtedness to her.