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Sojourner Truth
A Reading Comprehension Passage by Common Core Texts

On an afternoon in 1828, an African American woman named Sojourner Truth walked out of a New York courtroom with her head held high. She had just won a court case that would reunite her with her son. Like all children of slaves, Truth’s son was considered to be the property of the slave owner. But with the laws in the northern states rapidly changing, she was able to win freedom for five-year-old Peter. She was now the first African American woman to ever win a court case against a white man.

Sojourner Truth was born with the name Isabella Baumfree. She grew up as a slave on an estate in Esopus, New York. As a young girl, she was made to plow fields, plant crops, and spin wool. But in 1826, young “Bella” escaped to freedom with her daughter Sofia. She was forced to leave her other children behind. The laws of the day said that slaves could not live freely in New York until they had reached the age of twenty.

In 1843, Isabella Baumfree changed her name to Sojourner Truth. She told others that she now understood the truth about her purpose in life. She was called to be a “sojourner”: a person who wandered from place to place, never staying anywhere for very long.

From then on, Sojourner Truth traveled far and wide, preaching about why slavery should be abolished. Just as she chose her own name, Truth chose her own destiny. For the rest of her long and amazing life, she would continue to fight tirelessly for what she knew to be true.

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