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 Sojourner Truth finally settled in Battle Creek, Michigan. She died there in 1883. Hundreds

of people came to her funeral. They remembered all she had done for Blacks and for women.

She declared the Truth to people though she could not read nor write.



Remembering My Adult Education Students

The Learning Place Northwest (1990-1993)

By Rudolph Lewis

Heroes of the Hood

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A Woman for All Times

Sojourner Truth: Evangelist and Pioneer Civil Rights Activist

By Pamela White

Sojourner Truth was a U.S. Negro evangelist and a pioneer in the Civil Rights Movement. Her given name was Isabella Van Wagner. She was born 1827 into slavery in New York State. After the death of her parents, Isabella was sold several times. Her legal surname Van Wagner came from her last slave owner who bought her.

She ran away from her owner in New York State. A white family gave her shelter. The following year, New York outlawed slavery. She later moved to New York City with three of her children. Two other of her children had been sold as slaves.

Her first act as a free woman was a court battle to recover her two children that had been sold to an Alabama slave owner. Isabella was deeply religious. In 1843, she gave up her job as a maid and became active in the Religious Revival Movement in New York City. She felt called by God to preach against the evils of slavery.

She chose the name Sojourner Truth: “Sojourner” because she was to journey “up and down the land”; “Truth” because she fought for the truth to be known about slavery. She also spoke out for Woman’s Rights.

Though illiterate, she was an impressive, powerful speaker and soon became a well-known abolitionist. She was determined to speak the Truth. She traveled about talking for the cause of freedom for slaves. She worked with Frederick Douglass, Williams Lloyd Garrison, and other noted abolitionists. Below is part of a speech she gave after slavery had been outlawed:

I have been 40 years a slave and 40 years free. I would be here 40 years more to have equal rights for all. I have done as much work as a man, but I did not get as much pay as a man. I used to work in the filed. But men, who did get twice as much, we want as much.

I am about the only colored woman that speaks for rights of colored women. When we get our rights, we shall not have enough in our own pockets. Maybe you will ask us for money. It is a good feeling to know that we will not be coming to you any more.

There was something about Sojourner Truth that made people listen. Her words were powerful. Often mobs of whites tried to attack her. But she would not rest until her people were free. Like many abolitionists, she also fought for woman’s rights. She became a friend of Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and other leaders of the Women’s movements.

Sojourner Truth finally settled in Battle Creek, Michigan. She died there in 1883. Hundreds of people came to her funeral. They remembered all she had done for Blacks and for women. She declared the Truth to people though she could not read nor write.

Eventually she was appointed counselor to the former slaves of Washington, D.C. One of her main activities was a campaign to integrate street cars. In her attempts to use legal methods to fight racial discrimination, Sojourner Truth set an example for later leaders of the Civil Rights Movement.

As a Black woman, it is significant to me that 150 years ago women were fighting for equal rights. Today, we are still fighting for equal rights. In the future, perhaps women will have as much rights as men. That’s why I exercise my right to vote. It’s very important to me as a Black Woman.

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Sojourner Truth (c.1797 – November 26, 1883) was the self-given name, from 1843 onward, of Isabella Baumfree, an African-American abolitionist and women's rights activist. Truth was born into slavery in Swartekill, New York, but escaped with her infant daughter to freedom in 1826. After going to court to recover her son, she became the first black woman to win such a case against a white man. Her best-known extemporaneous speech on racial inequalities, Ain't I a Woman?, was delivered in 1851 at the Ohio Women's Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio. During the Civil War, Truth helped recruit black troops for the Union Army; after the war, Truth tried unsuccessfully to secure land grants from the federal government for former slaves.—Wikipedia

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The Afrikan-American Movement—The Sixties

By Dorothy O’Bannon


The Afrikan-American movement of the sixties is an event, a situation, a part of history, a part of not just a culture, but of all cultures. The black movement in its true content begins back when our ancestors, who were kings and queens, servants, teachers, mothers, fathers, and masters. By force, they all were aggressively forced against their wills to move onto the ships of slavery. This process of enslavement is the beginning of the black movement of the 1960s carry much significance and foundation for me in my life at present.

This era of the black movement, which I would define as the cornerstone of what yet to come, carries something spiritual in that it is so different from any other black movement to me. How so? This era holds great significance for my soul. In one sense, it makes up a quality substance in my soul. Although in my mother’s belly, I listened, I heard, I saw, I felt, I hurt with my mother and father. I tried to understand with them.

In her and his belly, I learned much of their fears and struggles along with their pain. Their belly became mine. Here is where I learned to take the bitter with the sweet, and here in the darkness is where I was exposed to the light.

The nineteen sixties was a decade of the BIRTH MARKING, marking the unborn before they came into the world, creating the future generations. The birth marking was no different than a farmer who goes out to brand his cows to show he owns them. The birth marking season was proof that his story repeats itself. For example, black history shows that pregnant women held as slaves in days of old were made to watch other slaves—males and females—tortured and put to death.

Other times, they were forced to watch pregnant black women’s bellies split open until their babies fell out onto the ground. Also, some watched black males have their penises cut off; while others saw black males and females raped by slave masters as a means to penetrate the seed in the belly with fear. A saying came out amongst the slave masters during the time of this sexual perversion—“THE BLACKER, THE BETTER.” But these things just a few, the white man use to breed, make, and keep a slave.

Now, I understand the biblical passage, which says, “WOE TO THE PREGNANT WOMAN IN THESE DAYS” and pray that it’s not in the winter time. The birth marking era I would define as a spiritual evolution for all the unborn of this decade. This was the season of the war of the sexes. Black men and women were set against each other, a situation which continues to today.

In the 60s we also had the uprising of the Black Panthers, the jailing of Angela Davis for nothing, the escape of James Baldwin and Eartha Kitt to European countries, the rise of the Nation of Islam, the deaths of Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., John and Bobby Kennedy, the dope, the riots, fathers and brothers in jail and/or out of work. There were a lot of little people with big hearts who died for the cause, including the four little girls bombed in the Birmingham church. And who can forget Josephine Baker, who some like to believe was the great black whore. The great black ugliness campaign goes on among us.

I never thought I would live to see these days. Nevertheless the world owes me no childhood, and now that I am an adult I know that I am adult for the rest of my life. The black movement and everyone involved has taught and give a SPIRITUALITY, a MENTALITY, a PERSONALITY, a SEXUALITY.

Therefore, it’s time to join the leaders and follow. Maybe it will continue to move on and maybe become a little more BLACKER if I join. Now it’s time to make my contribution. Possibly, it could cost me my mind, or my health, or my body, my soul or maybe even my life. But whatever it costs me I will not allow it to cost me my DIGNITY nor my INTEGRITY my ancestors left me.

Their blood is there to witness against me if I am a coward. Therefore, I am one who can come to love and appreciate their blood, no matter how painful. I know that their blood is my chastisement.

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Thurgood Marshall—A Fighter for Justice

By Paulette Appling

In 1930, Thurgood Marshall graduated with honors from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. The young Marshall was unable to attend his choice of law schools—the University of Maryland Law School—because of his race. Marshall went on to Howard University Law School and graduated magna cum laude three years later.

Marshall engaged in private law practice for several years. In 1936, he became part-time assistant to N.A.C.C.P. Special Counsel, Charles Houston. The two of them outlined a plan of attack on the nation’s legal inequities, and ironically, in 1938, it was attorney Marshall who prepared the brief for the Supreme Court that resulted in granting blacks the right to attend the University of Missouri Law School. Later that year, Mr. Houston returned to private practice, and Marshall was named Special Legal Counsel of the N.A.A.C.P. at the organization’s headquarters in New York City.

In 1939, the legal division of the N.A.A.C.P. became a separate organization and attorney Marshall was named its first director. During his early months as director of the N.A.A.C.P. Legal Defense Fund, Marshall challenged the legality of segregated facilities at the University of Texas Law School. He also went on to win sum important courtroom battles as Smith vs. Virginia, abolishing state laws which segregated interstate passengers.

Among the thirty-two cases he argued before the Supreme Court while affiliated with the N.A.A.C.P. Legal Defense Fund, perhaps the most famous and significant for attorney Marshall was one which was decided in 1954, called Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education. This victory for the N.A.A.C.P. brought an end to so called “separate but equal” educational facilities for black children in public schools throughout the nation.

In 1961, Thurgood Marshall became a U.S. District Judge for the second judicial circuit in New York and four years later was named U.S. Solicitor General, the lawyer whose responsibility it is to argue government cases before the Supreme Court.

Then in 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson elevated Marshall to the U.S. Supreme Court where he has continued to be a voice for the oppressed and downtrodden. In explaining his chosen career, Justice Marshall once said, and I paraphrase:

This isn’t a business I went into to make a great deal of money. My rewards have resulted from the satisfaction from people. I came a long way and worked hard. Things in this society are a little better for everyone.

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Jesus Is My Doctor

By Marsha Hudson

I was born April 24, 1954. I went to Elementary School 119, located in the 1000 block of Gilmore Street. I was living with my grandmother during this time. I remember one of my teachers named Mrs. Green. She was very nice. When I was seven years old I started having migraine headaches and bad vision.

My mother took me to many doctors. At first, they couldn’t find out was wrong with me. All kinds of tests were done. A specialist was called in, and they found out that I had a brain tumor. I was admitted in the hospital. Later, the doctors decided I needed an operation. At this time I was eight years old.

I had two operations in four months. I had my ninth birthday before I came home. When I got home, I was unable to see or walk well. My condition gradually improved, and I regained my sight and the use of my legs.

When I was older, my grandmother had a bible class named the Rose of Sharon. She called me her little missionary because I would go around the neighborhood getting children to come to bible class.

Our bible class grew from six to forty children. In the summertime, we had bible classes in our backyard. In winter, we had classes in the basement. We went to nursing homes and sang for the patients. We also sang on church programs.

When I was twelve years old, my sister, cousin, and I were in a talent show. We sang one of the Supreme’s songs, “Come See About Me.” We came in third place. After the show, my mother and some friends took us to dinner. We went to show our trophy to my grandmother.

When I was younger my sister and brother had to take me to parties with them, and they would smoke. So I told them if they paid me I would not tell. But I did. They started calling me "newspaper."

I got sick and had to have another operation. If I did not have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and a loving grandmother who knew the Lord, I may not be here today, for when I was nine the doctor told my mother I would not live another month.

Doctors don’t know everything because I am 37 years old and have two young ladies, 19 and 21 years old, children they said I could not have. I also have a wonderful life with my God, and a lovely mother. All I can say is thank you Lord. I pray that I keep walking in the right direction.

posted 5 April 2006

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The Ditchdigger’s Daughters

By Yvonne Thornton

Dr. Yvonne Thornton’s memoir The Ditchdigger’s Daughters has captured the hearts of readers everywhere since it was first published in 1995. Translated into 19 languages, featured on Oprah, and made into a TV movie, this heart-warming and inspiring story chronicles Yvonne Thornton’s family; at its center is her beloved, unschooled but wise father Donald Thornton, who demanded that all five of his daughters not only excel in school, but go on to become doctors. Four of them did; the other found her calling in law and became a lawyer instead.—Dafina

Thornton's frank, relaxed manner makes it accessible to general readers as well as students of women's or African American memoir. Worth considering also for those looking for inspirational reads.—Library Journal

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Freedom's Teacher: The Life of Septima Clark

By Katherine Mellen Charron

Freedom's Teacher traces Clark's life from her earliest years as a student, teacher, and community member in rural and urban South Carolina to her increasing radicalization as an activist following World War II, highlighting how Clark brought her life's work to bear on the civil rights movement. Katherine Mellen Charron's engaging portrait demonstrates Clark's crucial role—and the role of many black women teachers—in making education a cornerstone of the twentieth-century freedom struggle. Drawing on autobiographies and memoirs by fellow black educators, state educational records, papers from civil rights organizations, and oral histories, Charron argues that the schoolhouse served as an important institutional base for the movement. Clark's program also fostered participation from grassroots southern black women, affording them the opportunity to link their personal concerns to their political involvement on the community's behalf.

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1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created

By Charles C. Mann

I’m a big fan of Charles Mann’s previous book 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, in which he provides a sweeping and provocative examination of North and South America prior to the arrival of Christopher Columbus. It’s exhaustively researched but so wonderfully written that it’s anything but exhausting to read. With his follow-up, 1493, Mann has taken it to a new, truly global level. Building on the groundbreaking work of Alfred Crosby (author of The Columbian Exchange and, I’m proud to say, a fellow Nantucketer), Mann has written nothing less than the story of our world: how a planet of what were once several autonomous continents is quickly becoming a single, “globalized” entity.

Mann not only talked to countless scientists and researchers; he visited the places he writes about, and as a consequence, the book has a marvelously wide-ranging yet personal feel as we follow Mann from one far-flung corner of the world to the next. And always, the prose is masterful. In telling the improbable story of how Spanish and Chinese cultures collided in the Philippines in the sixteenth century, he takes us to the island of Mindoro whose “southern coast consists of a number of small bays, one next to another like tooth marks in an apple.” We learn how the spread of malaria, the potato, tobacco, guano, rubber plants, and sugar cane have disrupted and convulsed the planet and will continue to do so until we are finally living on one integrated or at least close-to-integrated Earth. Whether or not the human instigators of all this remarkable change will survive the process they helped to initiate more than five hundred years ago remains, Mann suggests in this monumental and revelatory book, an open question.

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The Persistence of the Color Line

Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency

By Randall Kennedy

Among the best things about The Persistence of the Color Line is watching Mr. Kennedy hash through the positions about Mr. Obama staked out by black commentators on the left and right, from Stanley Crouch and Cornel West to Juan Williams and Tavis Smiley. He can be pointed. Noting the way Mr. Smiley consistently “voiced skepticism regarding whether blacks should back Obama” . . .

The finest chapter in The Persistence of the Color Line is so resonant, and so personal, it could nearly be the basis for a book of its own. That chapter is titled “Reverend Wright and My Father: Reflections on Blacks and Patriotism.”  Recalling some of the criticisms of America’s past made by Mr. Obama’s former pastor, Mr. Kennedy writes with feeling about his own father, who put each of his three of his children through Princeton but who “never forgave American society for its racist mistreatment of him and those whom he most loved.”  His father distrusted the police, who had frequently called him “boy,” and rejected patriotism. Mr. Kennedy’s father “relished Muhammad Ali’s quip that the Vietcong had never called him ‘nigger.’ ” The author places his father, and Mr. Wright, in sympathetic historical light.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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