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Hi, and welcome to 60 Minutes. Our guest on the show today is Isabella Baumfree, also known as Sojourner Truth. She is famous for her acts in civil rights and fighting against slavery. She helped many slaves escape from plantation owners.
Hello, Ms. Truth.
Hello, and thank you for having me here.
What were some of your major accomplishments throughout your life?
I have worked as a women’s rights activist in New York and other states in the early 1800’s. I began my work with groups designed to assist all women. From that I became a speaker all over the country speaking for women’s rights. I fought for the desegregation of streetcars in Washington, DC and won. Blacks used to have to ride at the back of the buses and street cars, and I refused and fought for the right to ride up front with the white people. I worked to help slaves after they were freed from their owners and out on their own. I helped the freed slaves adjust to their new surroundings by helping them find housing and jobs. I was also a preacher in a local church where I preached about God and other religious matters.
What motivated you to achieve these accomplishments in your life?
I was born to slave parents in 1797. I belonged to several slave owners, including Mr. Dumont who owned me from 1810 -1826. In 1826 I walked away, leaving behind my husband and family, due to mistreatment by Mr. Dumont and the threat of being sold to another owner. Mr. Dumont broke his promise to me about being the only slave on his estate being freed early because of my 16 years of hard work on his estate. As I gained my freedom, I realized how unfair it was to be a slave and decided to speak out for black people and women’s rights.
Did you ever see your family again?
Yes. After Peter, my son, was illegally sold into slavery in the south, I was the first black person to win a lawsuit against white people to regain custody of him. At that time in New York it was illegal to sell slaves out of the state into the south. After we won the lawsuit, he came to live with me in New York City. When I was 60 years old I bought my house near Battle Creek, Michigan. I was reunited with my daughters, Elizabeth and Diana, and their families when they moved to Battle Creek to be nearer to me.
How did you get the name Sojourner Truth?
In 1843, I changed my name to Sojourner Truth. Sojourner means traveler and truth means being real or genuine. I felt that God had told me that my mission in life was to tell people the truth about women’s rights and slavery.
Thank you very much, Ms. Truth. I feel your work with women’s rights will carry through many generations.
Thank you for having me on your show to share my life with you.
Sadly, shortly after our interview, Sojourner Truth, age 86, passed away at her home in Battle Creek, Michigan where she lived with her daughters.
Sojourner Truth Timeline
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