So I’m still reading the life story of Sojourner Truth. In her narratives, I find her to be child-like in her faith, very practical, a deep thinker, and of passionate heart.
Sometimes she seems a bit odd to me but then I have to think about her upbringing. Beforehand, I didn’t know that when only a child, she was enslaved in a Dutch household and only spoke Dutch from early childhood until sold to an English-speaking family. How would I have fared if someone plucked me from the only place I knew as home, only to be taken to another place of dwelling where a new language and religion was beat into me – be a good slave and the Lord will bless you. Don’t steal, cheat, or lie, above all, to your master or the Lord – in that order.
Now, I’m a Christian myself, but what do you call it when religion is twisted and used as a hold on other human beings? Slavery, perhaps? So I understand why she was odd and different because she was pushed, shoved, uneducated, worked to the bone, and stripped of her secondary foundation – her own family – her husband and children.
I see her slave mentality develop into a wise old soul. She literally sat educated, loud, rich, white men down. And with only her voice. And with her broken-styled speech. And with her plain looks and tall, slim frame. I am starting to feel, right through the pages, her force that she brought with her. And yes, it definitely was from her brand of religion. The one which she developed, hewned, meditated on, and heard read aloud from the scriptures.
Her own thinking got her places unheard of during that time. Her mind, will, grace and reverence was awesome. Her quips – simple and plain – set things right. Her words were pithy and powerful. I have to end with an excerpt of one of her monologues. It is told by an onlooker who witness Ms. Sojourner’s speech firsthand:
I was once present in a religious meeting where some speaker had alluded to the government of the United States, and had uttered sentiments in favor of its Constitution. Sojourner stood, erect and tall, with her white turban on her head, and in a low and subdued tone of voice began by saying: ‘Children, I talks to God and God talks to me. I goes out and talks to God in de fields and de woods. [The weevil had destroyed thousands of acres of wheat in the West that year.] Dis morning I was walking out, and I got over de fence. I saw de wheat a holding up its head, looking very big. I goes up and takes holt ob it. You b’lieve it, dere was no wheat dare? I says, God [speaking the name in a voice of reverence peculiar to herself], what is de matter wid dis wheat? And he says to me, “Sojourner, dere is a little weasel in it.” Now I hears talkin’ about de Constitition and de rights of man. I comes up and I takes hold of dis Constitution. It looks mighty big, and I feels for my rights, but der aint any dare. Den I says, God, what ails dis Constitution? He says to me, “Sojourner, dere is a little weasel in it.”’ The effect upon the multitude was irresistible.
Laugh. Out. Loud.