Koinonia Farm’s vision statement is “love through service to others, joy through generous hospitality, peace through reconciliation.” All of our guest rooms are named after people who have come before us and embodied these ideas. These peacemakers are from all over the world and from all different periods of history. This “great cloud of witnesses” and their stories encourage us to keep pursuing love, joy, and peace in our life and work.
Sojourner Truth (c. 1797-1883) was born into slavery as Isabella Baumfree in Swatekill, New York. From an early age, she experienced God in nature and had conversations with God in the woods. In 1826, these conversations led her to walk to freedom with her infant daughter. This faith would compel her to ﬁght for the freedom of slaves and the rights of women throughout her life.
In the midst of the Second Great Awakening, the Holy Spirit touched Isabella and she began preaching in the Pentecostal movement. This tradition emphasized ecstatic worship and simple living. People revered her as a gifted preacher and by 1843, she felt God’s call to become a traveling preacher. In this vision, she heard God give her a new name to go along with her new calling.
I went to the Lord an’ asked Him to give me a new name. And the Lord gave me Sojourner, because I was to travel up an’ down the land, showing the people their sins an’ bein’ a sign unto them. Afterwards I told the Lord I wanted another name, ‘cause everybody else had two names; and the Lord gave me Truth, because I was to declare the truth to people.
The Narrative of Sojourner Truth, the story of her early life, was published in 1850. Truth became an even more popular speaker and her travels brought her in contact with other activists such as William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass, Lucretia Mott, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. In 1851, Truth delivered her most famous speech, “Ain’t I a Woman?,” at the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention. She argued for the power of women to ﬁght for their rights and for the equality of all people.
I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it- and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?
By the Civil War, Sojourner Truth’s speeches called for political change by eliminating the institution of slavery and allowing women the right to vote. During the War, she fought for the right for Black men to enter the Union Army as well as provided them with food and clothing. At the end of the war, she unsuccessfully attempted to gain land grants for former enslaved people. She also worked to help former enslaved people ﬁnd homes, jobs, and new ways to live.
Sojourner Truth continued to ﬁght for the rights of freed slaves and women until her death in Battle Creek, Michigan in 1883. Her compelling faith, eloquence, and willingness to ﬁght for the rights of humans regardless of race or gender are her legacy.
If the ﬁrst woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.