Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Truth, Sojourner (1797–1883)

Truth was born Isabella Baumfree into a slave family owned by Colonel Hardenbergh in New York and was subsequently sold to John Dumont. She had several children, and after New York emancipated all slaves in 1827, her son was illegally sold to a man in Alabama. She fought and won a case to free him, becoming the first black woman to win a challenge against a white man in a US court. In 1843 she changed her name and became a powerful abolitionist and advocate of women’s rights. She met William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass, and famously gave her “Ain’t I a Woman” speech at the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention in 1851. She worked throughout the Civil War to secure freedom and rights for slaves and women in the South.