My Heroine and My Voice
“Darlene you need to find your voice.” This is the topic explored during one of my coaching sessions with Brenda. I love Brenda and I have a deep respect for her. But by telling me, “Darlene you need to find your voice,” she took me to a place I didn’t want to go. What she wanted from me was to bring my feelings and emotions into my writing. And this girl doesn’t’ do emotions!
I’ve heard other writers and speakers talk about “finding their voice” but grasping it was challenging. The more I thought about finding my voice, the more I was plagued with the questions, “How and where do I find my voice?”
My search involved me looking at many writers and websites without any success. What I wanted was a formula: With simple 1,2,3 steps or a method to use. But I found nothing to help me. I continued to think about where to look next, and I thought about the question, Why do I write and speak? This question drew me to another place and time in history. It was a place and time when women were active for a cause. When women fought for the freedom of slaves, for women’s right to vote, the right to own land, be independent, and not be treated like slaves, as property.
In the late 1800’s through the early 1900’s, there were many women activist. These women fought for what we enjoy now. One woman, I researched stood out to me. I felt she invited me into her experience. She said, “My name is Sojourner Truth.” She motioned to me and said, “Baby, I know what you’re looking for, and I want to give you what I have; the strength in my voice, the courage in my voice and the wisdom to know how and when to use my voice and most of all the willingness to seek God in everything .” I learned all I could about Sojourner Truth. I discovered she was a woman with a voice full of passion, truth, strength, and courage. She was a woman who you would have to reckon with. Her voice was bold, fearless, and powerful. She had the qualities I admired in a woman and a voice I’ve come to love!
Sojourner Truth was a prominent abolitionist and women’s rights activist during the 1800’s. Born a slave in New York State, she had at least three of her children who were sold away from her. She escaped slavery with her infant daughter in 1826. Ms. Truth embraced evangelical religion and became involved in moral reform and abolitionist work. Sojourner Truth was a powerful, impassioned speaker whose legacy of feminine and racial equality still resonates today.
Sojourner Truth fought for what she believed in. She successfully won the custody of her son and became the first black woman to win a case against a white male. She sued a New York writer for slander and won, too. Sojourner Truth is best remembered for her stirring “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech, delivered at a women’s convention in Ohio in 1851. See this link for additional information about Sojourner Truth.
Sojourner Truth was recognized and embraced by a community of reformers including Amy Post, Lucretia Mott, Susan B. Anthony, just to name a few. They were friends with whom she collaborated until the end of her life.
One time a pro-slavery doctor claimed that Sojourner really wasn’t a woman. He further demanded that she privately show her breasts to a group of women. I wondered what he did when she unbuttoned her blouse and exposed her breast to the whole room and said: “It is not my shame but yours that I do this.” WOW! It seems to me like it took nothing for her to meet this challenge of ignorance from this professional man. But I see her confident stature standing and silently saying, “I dare you.”
After learning about Sojourner, I wondered, “Could I be as strong and as confident as her? Can I find that strength in me?”
Sojourner is an example of strength in the midst of overcoming great pain. She was a woman who cared deeply about the fight that God chose for her. He allowed her to experience the pain that comes with loss, the pain that comes with rejection, the pain that comes with love and the pain that comes with injustice. God allowed the pain before He brought her to the forefront of the FIGHT. But through all the pain Sojourner Truth remained humbled and never lost sight of her task, and she kept her voice to the very end of her life.
God is using Sojourner Truth to take me deeper into what He wants me to see, to understand and embrace about the voice I will need to do what He has called me too. I see her motioning me as she did from the start, inviting me not only to listen to her voice but to use a voice like hers.
Sojourner has been a mentor though I never met her. Do you have a Sojourner Truth in your life? You may know your calling but is God wanting to take you deeper in the calling He called you too? Do you have a Brenda who wants to see you successful in life and in your calling? What does your inner circle look like? Are they willing to stand in the gap for you? These people have been instrumental in my life. How can you pursue people who encourage and inspire you?
A Sojourner Truth UPDATE: On April 28, 2009, Speaker Pelosi and Members of Congress were joined by First Lady Michelle Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to unveil a bust by sculptor Artis Lane of Sojourner Truth. The bust is the first sculpture to honor an African American woman in the US Capitol and was donated by the National Congress of Black Women. Learn more about the unveiling.
Some of the information above was gleaned from the following websites:
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