For the second icon of the feminist movement, we will be looking at a female who did not just fight for gender equality, but also racial equality. Another example of an early figure spanning the 18th and 19th centuries Sojourner Truth played a big role in the fight for women’s equality in the United States.
Born into Slavery in 1797 Sojourner had a rough upbringing. Raised in the state of New York she would not escape to freedom until the year 1826 with one of her daughters. Unfortunately, she had to leave her other children but she would eventually take her old slave owner John Dumont to court and prevail in getting her son back. This was a groundbreaking case as it was the first time that a Black woman sued a White male and won. It is arguably an example that showed that the Patriarchy was not invincible and could be challenged, a commitment that Sojourner took to throughout her life. Sojourner Truth would go on to preaching and advocating for the abolitionist movement, from her travels she joined the Northampton Association of Education and History where she met a man named Frederik Douglass where she began to speak about her views on gender equality and the abolition of slavery. It was in the year 1851 where her speeches are truly known. While touring with famous anti-slavery activist George Thompson, Truth spoke at the Ohio women’s rights convention, Sojourner gave a speech calling for equal rights for the genders and also for the end of slavery. This combination of equality and abolition was supported by her experience as a laborer and was proof that women could indeed do just as much as men could. Her speeches were said to garner large crowds as her own experiences were highly influential in the speeches that she delivered, often drawing on her own experience as a black female slave and also resulted in her meeting with other famous feminists such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
During the Civil War Sojourner helped recruit Black soldiers to the Union cause and was also one of the key supporters to getting provisions and aid to Black refugees fleeing the war. It was this activism that enabled Sojourner to meet with President Abraham Lincoln, while in Washington D.C she was vocal and critical of segregation measures and actively challenged them while in the city. She would go on to be a keen supporter of Women’s suffrage and was always vocal with her views on gender equality. Her life is proof that change can be made, and through her speeches, it inspired a whole generation of women to stand up for equality.