A life, a symbol, yes! Painter tells the true story of Truth’s life, at least as well as it can be determined from the records available. In the telling, she explains why so little of value exists and why so much of what is told about Truth is unreliable. My conception of Sojourner Truth was greatly reworked from reading this book. We bought this book at least twenty years ago and somehow never got around to reading it until Covid19 sent us back to the shelves to see if there was anything we missed. Truth was a believer. Her religious affiliations changed, but she always felt a personal relationship with her God, unmediated by church hierarchies. This strong faith sustained her through all her efforts. Painter is particularly interested in Truth as a symbol and in how she was and has been used by others to promote their aims. The author argues that because of representations by others, many of whom had no direct personal knowledge of her as a human being, it is difficult to counter misapprehensions about the real woman.
We are now engaged in reading Truth’s own “Narrative of Sojourner Truth,” her story as told to a close friend, because Truth was illiterate. Olive Gilbert published in 1850, although Truth continued to preach, advocate, and work as an activist almost to the day of her death in 1883.