Often when people hear Sojourn Strategies, they assume our organization is named after Sojourner Truth and that is an absolutely correct assumption. When our founder, Katrina Gamble, was deciding to name the firm she wanted something that immediately reflected our values and was grounded in culture and history. Sojourner Truth embodied all of those things. She was a powerful Black woman abolitionist and women rights’ activist who always spoke truth and understood the fight for equity and justice was cross-cutting and intersectional. So, the name Sojourn Strategies came to be. Sojourn means to travel and we see the fight for equity and justice as a journey, a movement, — connected to history, to the present and to the future. We are grounded in the understanding that the struggle for equity and justice is not bounded and in the pursuit of that we must be willing to be in community wherever that may take us.
Today we wanted to share a bit about the story of Sojourner Truth and her brave accomplishments. You can also read more about her story from her voice in her biography, Narrative of Sojourner Truth. Sojourner Truth was enslaved at birth and remained so for the first 28 years of her life. She 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.
After her conversion to Christianity, she took the name Sojourner Truth, which in her words she explained the meaning, “Sojourner because I was to travel up and down the land showing people their sins and being a sign to them, and Truth because I was to declare the truth unto the people.”* The name reflected a mission to spread her faith and to speak out against the injustices she and so many faced.
While involved in the growing abolitionist movement, Sojourner Truth encountered disagreements with Black men leaders in the anti slavery movement who believed suffrage for Black men should come before women’s suffrage. Sojourner Truth believed that this was a false choice — the fight for racial justice and gender justice were intertwined, especially for her as a Black woman. By the 1850s she was also involved in the women’s rights movementl — where she experienced similar issues with white women suffragist who,often, did not want to be linked to anti-slavery causes, believing it might hurt their cause. Sojourner Truth persisted. Traveling thousands of miles making powerful speeches against slavery, and for women’s suffrage.
At the 1851 Women’s Rights Convention held in Akron, Ohio, Sojourner Truth delivered what is now recognized as one of the most famous abolitionist and women’s rights speeches in American history, “Ain’t I a Woman?” Although the exact wording of the speech is still debated, her message came through loud and clear: women of any race, color, or creed are as strong and capable as any man. Sojourner Truth continued traveling the country and speaking out for the rights of Black men and women and helped enslaved people escape to freedom for many years.
After the Civil War, she was honored with an invitation to the White House and became involved with the Freedmen’s Bureau, helping freed people find jobs and build new lives. In the late 1860s, she collected thousands of signatures on a petition to provide formerly enslaved people with land, though Congress never took action. Sojourner Truth spent her final years in Michigan with many of her children and family.
As an American abolitionist and women’s rights activist, we are proud to have Sojourner Truth’s strength and commitment represented in our name. Sojourner Truth left behind a legacy of courage, faith and fighting for truth and justice even in the most difficult circumstances. She remains a constant r inspiration for us in our continued fight for equity and justice. . Sojourner Truth said, “The truth is powerful and it will prevail.”At Sojourn Strategies we work everyday with our clients and partners to create a more equitable and just society, the very ideals Sojourner Truth dedicated her life to — we hope to continue to do our work in a way that honors that legacy and lives up to the values reflected in our name.
*Library of Congress, Exhibit on Sojourner Truth. https://www.loc.gov/exhibits/odyssey/educate/truth.html