Sojourner Truth: A Life, a Symbol

Nell Irvin Painter

Published by W. W. Norton & Company, 1996
ISBN 10: 0393027392 / ISBN 13: 9780393027396
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Synopsis: Sojourner Truth: ex-slave and fiery abolitionist, figure of imposing physique, riveting preacher and spellbinding singer who dazzled listeners with her wit and originality. Straight talking and unsentimental, Truth became a national symbol for strong black women - indeed, for all strong women. Like Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass, she is regarded as a radical of immense and enduring influence; yet unlike them, what is remembered of her consists more of myth than of historical fact. Now, in a masterful blend of scholarship and sympathetic understanding, eminent historian Nell Irvin Painter goes beyond the myths, words, and photographs to uncover the life of a complex woman who was born into slavery and died a legend. Inspired by religion, Truth transformed herself from a domestic servant named Isabella into an itinerant Pentecostal preacher; her words of empowerment have inspired black women and poor people the world over to this day. As an abolitionist and a feminist, Truth defied the stereotype of "the slave" as male and "the woman" as white - expounding a fact that still bears repeating: among blacks there are women; among women, there are blacks.

Review: Though she was born into slavery and subjected to physical and sexual abuse by her owners, Sojourner Truth, who eventually fled the South for the promise of the North, came to represent the power of individual strength and perseverance. She championed the disadvantaged--black in the South, women in the North--yet spent much of her free life with middle-class whites, who supported her, yet never failed to remind her that she was a second class citizen. Slowly, but surely, Sojourner climbed from beneath the weight of slavery, secured respect for herself, and utilized the distinction of her race to become not only a symbol for black women, but for the feminist movement as a whole.

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Title: Sojourner Truth: A Life, a Symbol
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: 1996
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: Used: Good

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