Michele Wood - The Official Site
Sojourner Truth: An African American Preacher
Title: Sojourner Truth: An African American Preacher
Medium: Acrylic on canvas, pins, jute, shank nails foam core
Price: Please send inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org
Comment: A roving Dutch speaking preacher, Sojourner Truth was a former slave. She became an abolitionist, and advocate for temperance, and woman’s right. Former freedom seeker, she was enslaved for 28 years of her life. Sojourner was from Ulster County, New York. Born Isabella Bomfree estimated birth in 1797 was bought and sold four times, endured hard labor, and violent punishment. At the age of ten years old, she was sold for $100.00 and some sheep.
In this depiction, Sojourner Truth walked to freedom with infant Sophia in 1826 a year before New York passed “An Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery” that would give freedom to slaves born after 1799. In 1817, an Act gave freedom to New York slaves who had been born before 1799, but not until 1827.” Isabella had worked hard for her slave owner and was promised her freedom. Isabella Bomfree after she had left the plantation later informed her former owner, “I did not run away, I walked away by daylight”
The Rope represents the lashes she endured. “I could work as much and eat as much as a man - when I could get it - and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman?”
Conversion: The nails represent her transformation. “Shortly after she obtained freedom, Isabella had a vision of Jesus and a profound experience of God and omnipresence. Her religious conversion culminated in 1843, at which time she changed her name to Sojourner Truth because she felt divinely inspired to travel the country and tell the truth to the American People. She was convinced God had called her.”
The words of her speech “Ain’t I woman is at the top of the painting.
"Ain't I a Woman?", December 1851
Sojourner Truth (1797-1883): Ain't I A Woman?
Women's Convention, Akron, Ohio
Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that 'twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what's all this here talking about?
That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man - when I could get it - and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman?
Then they talk about this thing in the head; what's this they call it? [member of audience whispers, "intellect"] That's it, honey. What's that got to do with women's rights or negroes' rights? If my cup won't hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn't you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?
Then that little man in black there, he says women can't have as much rights as men, 'cause Christ wasn't a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.
If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.
Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain't got nothing more to say.