From a Slave Named Isabella to Abolitionist Sojourner Truth: Her Life in Ulster County

One of the most prominent women in history was born right here in Ulster County. Time Warner Cable News reporter Candace Dunkley was at a lecture detailing the life of Sojourner Truth, who was born in the Town of Esopus.

NEW PALTZ, N.Y. -- From her statue in Port Ewen, to one of the houses where she worked as a slave, around Ulster County, Sojourner Truth’s memory lives on. 

“We want to keep reminding people that Sojourner Truth was here and she had a message and the message was human rights,” said Ulster County Historian Anne Gordon.

That’s why Gordon held a lecture in New Paltz Saturday. It detailed Truth’s life from a slave named Isabella to a free woman in 1826 and her accomplishments afterward. Sojourner Truth, who gave herself the name when she started working as a traveling preacher is most known for her work as an abolitionist.

“Making speeches in the face of angry crowds, and shrieking and yelling, people who were pro-slavery, she was a very bold woman,” said Gordon.

And part of her bold actions took place at Ulster County Court in Kingston, where she saved her son from slavery.

“She was the first African-American Woman to successfully sue a white man in court. And she did get her son back eventually,” said Gordon. 

Gordon said Truth was dedicated to a number of causes including women’s rights and speaking out against capital punishment. She hopes her message will continue to live on, across the globe, including, her birth place, Ulster County.

 “I think it was Eleanor Roosevelt who said, 'Human rights don't begin in some far off country, they begin in your town, in your neighborhood,’ and that's the message of Sojourner truth," she said.

The event was organized/hosted by Historic Huguenot Street.

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