Sojourner Truth Monuments
The monuments in this collection address the life and legacy of Sojourner Truth, the tireless abolitionist, feminist, and brilliant orator. Truth was born into slavery in 1797 in Swartekill, New York. She emancipated herself, escaping to freedom in 1826. During her 30 year career, she became a formidable force in several 19th-century reform movements, linking the struggles for Black freedom with women’s suffrage.
Truth capitalized on both the affecting power of photography and its reproducibility to support her activism. She created carte-de-visite portraits of herself, which she copyrighted, adding the caption “I Sell the Shadow to Support the Substance. Sojourner Truth.” As Darcy Grimaldo Grigsby explores in her book Enduring Truths: Sojourner’s Shadows and Substance, Truth “made her photographic portrait worth money in order to end slavery—and also became the strategic author of her public self.” Many of the monuments and memorials to Sojourner Truth featured in this collection are based on the photographic portrait that Truth so carefully created and circulated.