Making A Name for Herself: My Name Is Truth: The Life of Sojourner Truth by Ann Turner
American biography has often celebrated the "self-made man,"
but never was there a noted American who was more of a "self-made woman" than Abolitionist and Women's Rights crusader Sojourner Truth.
Born Isabella Baumfree, not in the cotton fields of the South, but among the Dutch-speaking farmers of New York State, she suffered many of the indignities of slave life--cruel masters, separation from her loved husband and child, and beatings and a forced marriage with another slave of her third master, Mr. DuMont. Bella became her own person when she fled with her youngest child, Sophia, and eventually took her former master to court and won back her son Peter when he was illegally sold into the South. Along the way, she learned English and became a Methodist, and came under the wings of the early Abolitionist leaders. In 1843 she left her old self behind, name and all.
GOD SPOKE IN MY HEART A NEW NAME THAT FITS ME LIKE A NEW DRESS, JUST MADE FOR ME.
NOW I AM SOJOURNER BECAUSE I TRAVEL FAR AND LONG TO TELL THE NEWS OF GOD'S TRUTH.A tall, muscular woman with a powerful voice, Sojourner gave voice to the cause of the end of slavery and women's rights for the rest of her life. She worked with other leaders, Frederick Douglass, Wendell Phillips, William Lloyd Garrison, Harriet Tubman, Lucretia Mott, and Susan B. Anthony, speaking for personal rights throughout the country. Sojourner met with presidents Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses Grant to urge full rights for all, and was almost a century ahead of Rosa Parks, taking a seat and demanding equal rights on the horse-drawn trolleys of Washington, D.C. In the years after the Civil War, when former slave men were given the right to vote, Sojourner clearly foresaw that true liberty and democracy would never be attained until all women had the same rights as white men.
Born in 1797, Sojourner was not to live to see full rights come to women, but she fully foresaw the rightness and necessity of that outcome, and those who took up her cause continue to gain strength from her vision and determination.
In her My Name Is Truth: The Life of Sojourner Truth (Harper, 2015), Ann Turner's narration of an extraordinary American life uses many of Sojourner Truth's own words to tell her own story, from her heart to the hearts of young readers. James Ransome's well-executed illustrations--from young Bella fleeing to freedom with her baby, Isabella sleeping in her first clean white bed as a grown woman, to the well-known Sojourner the civil rights crusader, travelling the nation to take her simple, moving message to her fellow citizens---extend the text well. As Kirkus Reviews says, "Against a white background, the images explode across the pages."
This is a highly recommended book for library biography and civil rights collections, a picture book that introduces one of our nation's one-of-a-kind characters to young readers. For Black History Month, read this one aloud along with Ann Petry's notable Harriet Tubman: Conductor on the Underground Railroad.