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Unit Four. Week Three, 6/6. 400 Souls: Reflecting on a Community History of African America.

Updated: Jul 12, 2021

Teach Out Gathering Time

Sunday, June 6. 5:00-7:00pm PST

Meeting ID: 984 4028 7294

400 souls: reflecting on a community history of african america

week three


we convene in honor of sojourner truth

born Isabella (later Van Wagener), a slave in upstate New York, Sojourner Truth was the first known African American suffragist. she also vociferously fought for abolition of enslavement.

a supposed illiterate, itinerant preacher and reformer from Ulster County, New York, she was an emancipated slave who supported herself with menial jobs. Truth traveled throughout the eastern United States and attended woman’s rights conventions as an outspoken proponent for both woman’s rights and woman suffrage. she was known for her overwhelming presence, personal magnetism, and unique oratorical style - these traits captivated audiences and won even skeptics to her cause.

Truth also earned money by selling The Narrative of Sojourner Truth, written for her by Olive Gilbert. in 1852-53, she spent several days with Harriet Beecher Stowe, who called her “The Lybian Sibyl,” who spread Truth’s fame in an Atlantic Monthly article in 1863. she was said to have delivered a powerful speech in favor of woman’s rights at the Akron, Ohio woman’s convention in 1851, remembered as “Ain’t I a Woman?” this is a speech some historians today question because it is remembered in Southern slave dialect, while Truth had the speech of one raised in Dutch-speaking New York and was fluent in at least two languages. however, the speech secured her reputation as a famous champion of the woman’s rights cause.

in 1864, she traveled to Washington D. C. where she was received by President Lincoln in the White House. in December of that year, the National Freedman’s Relief Association appointed her “counselor to the freed people” at Freedman’s Village, Arlington Heights, VA. Truth also attended meetings of the American Equal Rights Association where she called for the vote for BOTH Black men and for women. in the mid-1850s, she moved to Battle Creek, Michigan, where she lived among an enclave for free Blacks. by 1875, Truth returned to Battle Creek, continuing long forays of lecturing until her death in 1883. she was judged to be 85 years old.

we dedicate this week's gathering and study in The Teach Out to the memory of Truth's life and work. may she rest in power.


our week three reading

four hundred souls: part three

pg. 73-108


our weekly provocations

1. Discussion questions for Four Hundred Souls, Part Three (below)

2. Interview with Ibram X. Kendi & Keisha N. Blain about Four Hundred Souls, PBS, February 2021 (18:15)



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