Narrative of Sojourner Truth
, by Sojourner Truth
, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics
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At a time when most black women were slaves or servants and even white women were expected to sit quietly in the corner, Sojourner Truth transformed herself from a runaway slave to a well-known campaigner for abolition and women’s rights. Born a slave in New York State around 1797 and given the name Isabella by her owner, she had already fled to freedom when New York’s 1827 anti-slavery law officially emancipated her. Deeply religious, she adopted the name Sojourner Truth and became a traveling lay preacher and lecturer. Though she was illiterate, her extraordinary speaking skills electrified audiences and brought her widespread fame.
Sojourner Truth dictated her Narrative to fellow feminist and abolitionist, Olive Gilbert. First published in 1850, it reveals the striking differences between slavery in the North and in the South. For example, while hideous conditions could be found in either region, Northern slaves were much more isolated from other African-Americans, and therefore more psychologically dependent upon their masters.
An essential document of American history, Narrative of Sojourner Truth swirls with the fiery insights of this complex, accomplished, and magnetic woman, a preacher and a suffragist, and one of our most consummately human figures.
Imani Perry is an assistant professor of law at Rutgers Law School in Camden, New Jersey. She holds a Ph.D. from the Harvard Program in the History of American Civilization and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. Perry is the author of numerous scholarly articles on the intersection of law and literature in African American cultural history, and the role of aesthetics in African American political discourse. Her book Prophets of the Hood: Politics and Poetics in Hip Hop was published by Duke University Press in 2004.