Winning Essay by Bria B. from Louisiana attending University of Louisiana-Lafayette

Winning Essay by Bria B. from Louisiana attending University of Louisiana-Lafayette
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     Isabella Baumfree, better known as Sojourner Truth, knew what it was like to be Black and female in the 1800s. She was born a slave circa 1797 in upstate New York to an extremely abusive master. She experienced the man she loved being brutally beaten to death simply because he visited her. She witnessed her children being taken away and sold to places unknown. This is enough to break even the strongest of people, but she refused to give in. In 1826, she escaped to freedom with her infant daughter. In 1828, she went to court to recover her son and became the first black woman to win such a case against a white man.
 
     It was in 1834 that she renamed herself Sojourner Truth due to a conviction that she felt from God to minister and share her testimony. She also began to speak out about social issues such as civil and women’s rights. She displayed her passion, strength, and wisdom in her speeches such as “Ain’t I a Woman,” which she delivered in 1851 at the Ohio Women's Rights Convention. This famous, impromptu speech showed Truth’s talent for expressing herself in an unorthodox way. Albeit illiterate by some standards, she was able to speak in a vernacular that was captivating, soulful, and effective.
 
     She was also very proactive in the liberation of black people. She helped recruit black troops for the Union Army and rode in streetcars to force desegregation. In 1870, Truth tried to help former slaves get land grants from the government but was unsuccessful after seven relentless years of trying. It has even been said that she played an instrumental role in President Lincoln’s decision to free the slaves.
 
      What is so awe-inspiring about Truth is how she defied all of the odds that were against her. The injustices that she experienced did not destroy her morale. Her lack of education did not prevent her from acquiring a tremendous amount of wisdom. She weathered every storm and carried on in a strength and brilliance that go unmatched.
 
     Sojourner Truth has shown me everything that it takes to be both Black and female in any era. Although I do not face even a fraction of the challenges that she did, I do know that black women are still at the bottom of the totem pole in America, and we still face issues of racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination. 
 
     This is why I emulate her resilience, brilliance, and grace. I also admire her faith and trust in The Lord, who I depend on fully, as well. She has shown me what happens when you do not allow life to break you, but instead, you stand strong, let your light shine, and make your voice heard. It is then that you become a beacon of hope. You become a historic figure who will be taught about for generations to come. You become an inspiration to everyone, especially those who look like you. You become a legend.
 
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