Black History Month: Sojourner Truth

Black History Month: Sojourner Truth

It’s February which means African-American History Month or what is more commonly known as “Black History Month” is here once again. Black History Month serves as a month long commemoration and celebration of African-American history.

A little history about BHM…

The precursor to what is now BHM began as “Negro History Week,” the second week in February, when historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History chose the week because it coincided with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass; both of whom were celebrated in the Black community.

Canada also celebrates their Black History Month in February, while the United Kingdom’s takes place in the month of October. Attempts to implement a Black heritage month in Germany have been under-ways since the 1990’s, but an official result has not yet been declared.

“While the month-long series of events discusses oppression and prejudices against people of color, the main aim is to recognize the rich history and culture and significant contributions to society made by people with African heritage,” said the Atlantic Review.

Black excellency: Sojourner Truth

An important icon representing black excellency is the late Sojourner Truth, born Isabella “Bell” Baumfree, an African-American abolitionist and women’s rights activist of the nineteenth century.

Truth was dedicated to many social justice issues and traveled the country to deliver speeches to people of all ethnic-backgrounds, color, faith and different classes. She did this in attempts to educate Americans regarding the injustices people of color faced through slavery and oppression.

She advocated equal rights on behalf women and black people alike. Ironically, she herself was not literate, but was described as an eloquent speaker.

She was known for many speeches, two of her most notable being, “The Spirits Call Me” where she details her call from the spirits to spread word of the abolition of slavery, and “Ain’t I A Woman” where she speaks on the abilities and importance of women and African-Americans.

Truth was often referred to as a preacher and a “wise soul” because she tended to pattern her speeches with references from the Holy Bible, a shocking fact considering she had never read the script herself.

It was said that she changed her name to Sojourner for the fact that she was a nomad and would travel. The inclusion of Truth was because she wanted to be as honest as her intentions and felt that having two names would be appropriate as opposed to one.

Truth’s speeches left people feeling shaken up and moved. She was described to have a daunting effect on people, as she was large in stature, and filled up the room with a voice said to match that of any man’s.

The late Abraham Lincoln admired her as well, exclaiming his knowledge about her efforts prior to their meeting on equal ground. It was said to be a significant meeting, as it brought together “two major freedom fighters” (biography.com).

Sojourner Truth, like many famous late African-Americans, serves as an effective account in which a person of color fought to give minorities of today a voice in contemporary society. Had it not been for societal members, such as the late preacher, many things could not be possible. During a time when the Black Lives Matter movement rings loud and racial equality has found itself to the forefront of our everyday occurrences it is important we remember those who instrumented the start of the movement. Happy Black History Month!

Sources: ChroniclingAmerica.loc.gov / atlanticreview.org / biography.com