An Essayby Bridget Quinn
If you’re familiar with anything about Sojourner Truth, it’s likely her solemn visage. You’ve probably seen her face on T-shirts, buttons, and postage stamps. With a gaze that feels like she’s staring straight into your soul. Maybe you’ve seen Truth, as I did recently, looking out from a set of coasters at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee, alongside a set bearing Rosa Parks’s mug shot. We all know what Parks did for civil rights when she refused to move to the back of the bus. But some 170 years before Parks, Sojourner Truth had the temerity to stand before a crowd in Akron, Ohio, and declare herself a person to be reckoned with. Today her contributions to human rights have been reduced to coasters and stamps and five words she likely never said: “And ain’t I a woman?”
But before we get there, let’s go back.