Sojourner Truth tea towel
Sojourner Truth (1797-1883) was an African-American abolitionist and women's rights activist. Truth was born into slavery in Ulster County, New York, but escaped with her infant daughter to freedom in 1826. After going to court to recover her son, in 1828 she became the first black woman to win such a case against a white man.
She gave herself the name Sojourner Truth in 1843 after she became convinced that God had called her to leave the city and go into the countryside. Her best-known speech was delivered extemporaneously in 1851 at the Ohio Women's Rights Convention in which she demanded equal human rights for all women as well as for all blacks. Advocating for women and African Americans was dangerous and challenging enough, but being one and doing so was far more difficult. Different versions of the speech were recorded and disseminated, one with the title "Ain't I a Woman?" as the question was repeated four times. However, it was re-written by someone else using a stereotypical Southern dialect, whereas Sojourner Truth was from New York and grew up speaking Dutch as her first language.
During the Civil War Truth helped recruit black troops for the Union Army and after the war she tried unsuccessfully to secure land grants from the federal government for former slaves.
In 2014, Truth was included in Smithsonian magazine's list of the "100 Most Significant Americans of All Time".