Google celebrates the first day of Black History Month with an illustration honoring abolitionist Sojourner Truth. Created by Loveis Wise, the doodle features the courthouse where Truth became the first African-American woman to win a lawsuit by fighting for her son’s freedom.
Born approximately in 1797 as a slave in New York by the name of Isabella Baumfree, she suffered through the inhumane acts of the American slave trade, and endured the unimaginable agony of having her children sold as slaves. After nearly two decades of abuse, she won her freedom in 1826 and changed her name to Sojourner Truth, which marked the start of a new life where she traveled around the country as a distinguished speaker, author, preacher, abolitionist, and an advocate for women’s rights. She met abolitionists Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison during her travels, and later published her first memoir called The Narrative of Sojourner Truth: A Northern Slave.
In the autobiography, Truth retold the story of how she escaped slavery with her daughter, an infant at the time. Reluctantly forced to leave her other children behind, she and her daughter were taken in by Isaac and Maria Van Wagenen, who assisted Truth in suing her slave master for illegally selling her five-year-old son Peter into slavery. Her historic win was a monumental victory, as Truth became the first Black woman to successfully sue a white man in the United States.
Philadelphia-based artist Loveis Wise shared a few thoughts about why creating this particular doodle of Sojourner Truth was significant for her. “As a Black woman, illustrating Sojourner Truth was especially personal and meaningful to me,” she tells Google in a statement. “Her journey and persistence inspired major change in both rights for enslaved African-Americans and women. Her history is deeply rooted to my ancestors and others around the world.”
The project allowed Wise to dive deeper into researching about Truth’s legacy and the phenomenal impact that other Black women activists have left behind. “Without her work and the awareness Sojourner spread, the US would not be what it currently is today! It’s important to lift up her legacy and reflect on that,” she said.
In honor of #BlackHistoryMonth, we celebrate American abolitionist Sojourner Truth, who escaped from slavery & became a powerful advocate for justice & equality everywhere.
— Google Doodles (@GoogleDoodles) February 1, 2019