Sojourner Truth (1797–1883, born Isabelle Baumfree) was an American abolitionist and women’s rights activist. Truth was born into slavery in Ulster County, N.Y. and lived as a slave for nearly 30 years, during which she bore at least five children.
Her fight for freedom began in her home state before slavery was abolished in New York in 1827. After obtaining her freedom, Truth won a court battle in which she succeeded in rescuing one of her youngest sons from enslavement in the South, making her the first black woman to win such a case against a white man. She moved to New York City in 1829, where she became affiliated with Christian evangelists and felt compelled to follow “the truth” by a higher calling. In 1843, she officially changed her name to Sojourner Truth and devoted herself to following her calling to “travel up and down the land” to sing, preach and debate the message of God’s goodness and the brotherhood of man.
Her travels led her to join the abolitionist movement, which she became heavily involved in and spoke for across the state of Massachusetts. Truth earned reputation as a powerful speaker and when she toured the Midwest in 1850, large crowds gathered to hear her. At the urging of women leaders, Truth entered the women’s rights movement in the early 1850s and continued to speak out and fight for gender equality throughout the remainder of her life. She spoke at numerous women’s conventions, including her famous “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech, which was delivered at the 1851 Women’s Convention in Akron, Ohio.