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Last Updated on May 8, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 254

Bernard decided to write about Sojourner Truth while she was an undergraduate student at the University of Chicago. She writes in her author's note that reading an anthology of black writings provided her with her "first inkling that Negroes had made any contribution to American history beyond the wellknown fact...

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Bernard decided to write about Sojourner Truth while she was an undergraduate student at the University of Chicago. She writes in her author's note that reading an anthology of black writings provided her with her "first inkling that Negroes had made any contribution to American history beyond the wellknown fact of their slave labor," and she found Sojourner Truth interesting because "Sojourner's powerful personality, her strong-minded opinions and no-nonsense behavior—as well as the very practical inspiration she brought to her struggle for her people's rights—made me suspect I had been missing a great deal."

On one level, Bernard's book tells the story of Sojourner Truth, "a frightened, lonely slave child" who rose from being "the hardworking, obedient slave of a master whose sole claim to her gratitude was that he was reasonably kind" to achieving national recognition as a leading spokesperson for the rights of blacks and women. On another level, Journey Toward Freedom is an introduction to nineteenth-century American social and cultural history. The book focuses on individual people to show the brutality of slavery, the struggle against slavery, and the gradual evolution of rights for women and blacks. Bernard offers a well-told story about an inspiring woman, and brings history to life by showing the people who made it.

Journey Toward Freedom was published in 1967 at the height of the civil rights movement. Though it is about a woman who lived in the nineteenth century, the book addresses social concerns and themes that apply equally well to the twentieth century.

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