Sojourner Truth Lesson for Kids: Biography & Facts

Instructor: Claire DeSaussure

Claire has worked in behavioral programs at the Elementary Level and has an MLS with a focus on Creative Writing.

Sojourner Truth was born into slavery, but she overcame her circumstances and worked to help African Americans and women gain equal rights. Find out more about this incredible woman in this lesson.

Early Years

Sojourner Truth was born in 1797. She started out her life as Isabella Baumfree. She spent her early childhood years living in slavery in New York. Because that part of America had been owned by the Dutch, Isabella and her slave owners spoke no English. When Isabella was 9, she was sold to another family, and she began to learn English.

Even though New York passed an anti-slavery law in 1827, Sojourner's owner did not want to let her go. Sojourner ran away to the home of some neighboring abolitionists, or people who did not believe in slavery. They paid for Sojourner's freedom.

An African American Woman in the Courts

When Truth escaped, she had to leave her son Peter behind. She found out later that he had been sold into slavery in the south. This was now against the law. Sojourner went to court to ask the judge to help her. The judge decided she was right and made the men bring her son back. Truth was the first African American woman to win a lawsuit against a white man.

When Truth was free, she worked as a housekeeper for a man called Elijah Pierson in New York City. But he died, and people accused Sojourner of murdering him. It was not true, and Sojourner went to court again and told the judge people were lying about her. The judge agreed with Sojourner again, and she won the lawsuit.

A Change of Heart and a Change of Name

In 1843, Isabella left New York to travel through the countryside preaching. She officially changed her name to Sojourner Truth. She wanted to tell people that all slaves should be free. Some states would still not let slaves be free, and Truth thought that was wrong.

In 1843, she went to live in Northampton, Massachusetts. She joined the Northampton Association for Education and Industry. This group of people lived on their own on 500 acres of land. They grew their own food and did not need the outside world for any supplies.

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