Isabella Bomfree felt so strongly about speaking out about what was right that she changed her name—to Sojourner Truth.
Bomfree was born an enslaved person in New York State around 1797, where it was legal to enslave people until 1827. When she was about 20, she ran away to a nearby family who didn’t believe in enslaving people, and they bought her freedom. She became an energetic speaker at religious revivals and believed that she had been blessed to speak the truth. That’s when she changed her name.
A sojourner is someone who travels from place to place, and that’s what Truth did while she spoke out against enslaving people and for women’s rights. Touring the country, she challenged many people’s false beliefs about race and gender. Even though she couldn’t read or write, her thrilling speeches won her the respect of many educated people fighting for the rights of Black people and women. That included President Abraham Lincoln, who met with her at the White House in 1864. She died on November 26, 1883.