Servant Leadership Profile: Sojourner Truth – Black History Month

Isabella Baumfree, the African-American abolitionist & women's rights activist became Sojourner Truth to reflect her calling to travel and spread the truth.

Note: As honor of Black History Month, I am highlighting great servant leaders from African American history. Today’s recognition goes to Sojourner Truth.

Who Was Sojourner Truth

Born Isabella Baumfree, the African-American abolitionist & women’s rights activist gave herself the name Sojourner Truth to reflect her calling to travel and spread the truth. Born into slavery in New York, Truth escaped but was only able to take one child with her and had to leave a son behind. Later, she became the first black woman to win a court case against a white man when she reclaimed her son.

Sojourner Truth Servant Leader ProfileWhat Sojourner Did

  • Sojourner Truth was an abolitionist and woman’s rights activist
  • She helped recruit Black troops for the Union army in the Civil war
  • Truth also fought for better living conditions for African Americans
  • She fought segregation in Washington street cars
  • Sojourner is claimed to have wrote The Valiant Soldiers
  • Truth fought, though unsuccessfully, to acquire federal land grants for former slaves
  • She was also known for prison reform and opposition to capital punishment in Michigan

Servant Leadership Quotes By Sojourner

  • “If women want any rights more than they’s got, why don’t they just take them, and not be talking about it.”
  • “If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these together ought to be able to turn it back and get it right side up again”
  • “Religion without humanity is very poor human stuff.”
  • “Truth is powerful and it prevails.”
  • “I am glad to see that men are getting their rights, but I want women to get theirs, and while the water is stirring I will step into the pool.”
  • “We do as much, we eat as much, we want as much.”

Why Sojourner Truth is a Servant Leader

Sojourner fought for the greater good of her community and our country at great personal risk and costs. Although she was well received by many, including multiple U.S. presidents, she also faced incredible opposition. She did not win every battle but never stopped fighting. She exemplified many servant leadership attributes, including integrity and strong character, healing, stewardship, building community, empathy and more.

Further Reading on Sojourner Truth


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Ben Lichtenwalner

Ben Lichtenwalner is the founder and principal of Modern Servant Leader and Radiant Forest, LLC. He has studied and promoted servant leadership awareness and adoption for over 20 years. He is the author of 2 leadership books and has 2 decades of corporate management and leadership experience. His corporate experience spans CIO, VP, Director, and many management roles at Fortune 500, INC 500, and Nonprofits. Ben’s education includes a B.S. in Management Science & Information Systems from Penn State University and an MBA from Lehigh University. Ben's Full Profile Here: About Ben Lichtenwalner

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