Slavery in the Nineteenth Century

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Why Is Sojourner Truth Important

What is the significance of Sojourner Truth?

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Sojourner Truth was a former slave and a passionate advocate for the abolition of slavery. Her chief importance today lies in her intersectionality: she connected race and gender to expose false gender constructs, most notably in her speech "Ain't I a Woman?".

In "Ain't I a Woman?," Truth exploded the...

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Sojourner Truth was a former slave and a passionate advocate for the abolition of slavery. Her chief importance today lies in her intersectionality: she connected race and gender to expose false gender constructs, most notably in her speech "Ain't I a Woman?".

In "Ain't I a Woman?," Truth exploded the common myth at the time that said that woman were too fragile and weak for equality with men, and must instead be sheltered and carefully placed on a pedestal. She notes how hard she worked as a female slave, saying:

Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman?

She goes on to say that being a supposedly tender and weak female earned her no extra protection as a slave. She was beaten with a whip just like a male slave, and her maternal feelings were not considered when her children were sold away from her.

Sojourner laid bare, in ways it was hard to ignore, the way nineteenth-century notions of innate femininity were class- and race-based. Treating middle- and upper-class white women as fragile flowers was an ideology that served male power, as shown by how rapidly it was discarded when society needed lower-class women of color to do hard labor.

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Sojourner Truth is significant because of her work against slavery.  Truth was born a slave around 1797 in New York state.  Her birth name was Isabella Baumfree.  She chose the name "Sojourner Truth" for herself later on in her life.

Truth became free because she was living in New York when the state outlawed slavery.  After she became free, she became a lecturer, giving speeches about what it was like to be a slave.  She gave lectures in 21 states and in the District of Columbia.  Her most famous speech is now known as "Ain't I a Woman."  This speech was given in 1851 at a women's rights meeting in Ohio.

Overall, then, Sojourner Truth is significant as an advocate of abolition.  She is the most famous black female abolitionist speaker.

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