Sojourner Truth Lesson for Kids: Biography & Facts

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  • 0:04 Sojourner Truth
  • 0:36 Legal Victories
  • 1:11 Activist Work
  • 2:00 Fight for Equality
  • 2:28 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
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.

Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth was born in 1797. Her birth name was 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 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.

Legal Victories

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, so she went to court to ask the judge to help her. The judge decided she was right and made the men who had taken her son bring him 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. When he died, people accused Sojourner of murdering him. As this was not true, Sojourner went to court again and told the judge people were lying about her. The judge agreed with Sojourner, and she won the lawsuit.

Activist Work

In 1843, Isabella left New York to travel through the countryside preaching about the evils of slavery, a practice in many states. She officially changed her name to Sojourner Truth.

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 rely on the outside world for any supplies.

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