Sojourner Truth, an ex-slave and fiery abolitionist, figure of imposing form, captivating preacher who impressed listeners with her wit and originality. Sojourner Truth was straight talking and unsentimental, who became a national symbol for strong black women, undeniably to all strong women. She is regarded as a radical of immense and enduring influence. Although Truth was illiterate throughout her life the enormity of that obstacle, and the prejudices of her day, which oppressed African-Americans and women, she arose to become one of the most formidable activists, abolitionists, feminists, and crusaders for equal rights in her time or any other. Besides joining the abolitionist fight, Truth argued forcefully for the rights of women, making her an even more famous and controversial figure. As a feminist, Truth called for gender equality with the same conviction she used to battle slavery. However, Truth was disillusioned by the feminist movement of her time.
Her disagreements with the women's rights leadership of her time arose out of differences in their backgrounds and experiences. Most of the women involved in the feminist movement during her time were white, middle-class, educated, and privileged. The program that these feminists demanded failed to help African-American women and poor working women of any color, race, or ethnicity. In this sense, Truth's feminism was more radical in that it was conceived in such a way as to apply equally to all women, regardless of their condition, past or present.
Sojourner Truth lived at a time when the society's dominant values dictated that
African-Americans were, by definition, inferior: morally, physically, and intellectually.
Women especially were seen as inferior to men and their rights were denied for reasons very closely related to those applied to African-Americans. Here the struggle against slavery and the modern feminist movements were born, almost simultaneously. Both were...