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Michal Scott: Another Historic First for Sojourner Truth (Contest & Excerpt)
Friday, March 25th, 2022

UPDATE: The winner is…Diane Sallens!

Say the name Sojourner Truth and immediately I think of her iconic 1851 speech, “Ain’t I a Woman,” at the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio (see below—it’s just 3 minutes long). But what never came to mind was the fact that she was the first Black woman to win a lawsuit against a white man. I didn’t know because her birth name is not as famous as her chosen name. When Sojourner Truth was born enslaved in Ulster County NY her name was Isabella Baumfree. By 1864 she was well-known for her abolitionist, suffrage, civil and women’s rights work. But it was in 1828 that she went to court to win the freedom of her five-year-old son, Peter, who had been illegally sold into slavery in Alabama.

In 1827 Baumfree ran away with her baby daughter, unfortunately having to leave her other three children behind. She found refuge with a nearby abolitionist family, the Van Wageners. They were able to buy her freedom from her enslaver by buying her services for $20. In 1828 New York State outlawed slavery but that didn’t mean the practice stopped. Her former master, John Dumont, had sold Peter to Southern slaveholder, Eleazar Gedney who then sold Peter to his brother Solomon.

As the children of slaves were born slaves, they were their owners’ property just as their parents were. However, in 1818 a state law had been passed that freed anyone born after July 4, 1799. Some sources cite Peter’s birth year as 1818, others as 1821. So having been born well after 1799, Peter was covered by this statute. Sources I found stated that he would have had to work as an indentured servant until he reached his twenties. Thus, Dumont had the right to sell his services but not sell him into slavery. That happened when Eleazar Gedney sold Peter to Solomon who made him his slave. With the help of the Van Wageners, Baumfree’s case went to the Albany Supreme Court. She won, and her son was set free. She was also awarded $500 in damages.

You can learn more about this historic case and see a copy of the writ of habeas corpus filed on her behalf in the Times Union archives here:

What I appreciate about commemoration months like Women’s History Month is the awareness and inspiration I receive from learning how people prevailed despite the odds and the circumstances of their times being against them.

For a chance at winning a $10 gift card, share in the comments about someone or some event that you can cite where the odds and the circumstances were against them, but justice was done in the end.

One Breath Away
Michal Scott

Sentenced to hand for a crime she didn’t commit, former slave Mary Hamilton was exonerated at literally the last gasp. She returns to Safe Haven, broken and resigned to live alone. Never having been courted, cuddled or spooned, Mary now fears any kind of physical intimacy when arousal forces her to relive the asphyxiation of her hanging. But then the handsome stranger who saved her shows up, stealing her breath from across the room and promising so much more.

Wealthy freeborn-Black Eban Thurman followed Mary to Safe Haven, believing a relationship with Mary was foretold by the stars. He must marry her to reclaim his family farm. But first he must help her heal, and to do that means revealing his own predilection for edgier sex.

Then just as Eban begins to win Mary’s trust, an enemy from the past threatens to keep them one breath away from love…

Excerpt from One Breath Away…

Home at last, she’d see if meeting Eban meant this night would be good.

Since her ordeal, her sex rivaled the Chihuahuan Desert in dryness. Yet Eban’s gaze had summoned the fragrant flow that even now moistened her core. Could it be her body had finally healed? She swayed, dizzy with expectation.

The squeak of the indoor pump provided no distraction from the lingering tingle where Eban’s fingers had rested against her spine, where his lips had kissed her hand. She focused on her task to temper her excitement.

Fill the bucket. Lift the bucket. Carry the bucket. Empty the bucket. Fill the bucket. Lift the bucket. Carry the bucket. Empty the bucket.

The pans she filled slowly simmered then steamed on her small, pot-bellied stove.

Her heart seized as she fingered the simple gingham curtains covering Harvest Home’s windows. Harvest Home’s humble kitchen contrasted sharply with the trappings that had graced Mary’s Manor, her Weston restaurant expansion.

She’d looked up the word manor and decided her place would imitate that kind of luxury as much as possible. Brocaded drapes and white, linen tablecloths had dressed up the Manor’s supper room. Slipcovers made from the same linen covered the cushioned chairs. White, bone china and delicate silverware completed the picture of elegant dining she hoped to draw.

A Franklin stove, indoor pump, double sink, polished counter tops and spacious storage cupboards made the Manor’s kitchen a dream made true. Nothing lacked for the grand opening. Picturing couples enjoying themselves in her simple but elegant setting had become her favorite pastime.

Then Judah Little and his lies thwarted her plans. Thwarted. A good word. A true word.

“But not for long,” she whispered. “That dream will come true just as this dream might come true tonight.”


10 comments to “Michal Scott: Another Historic First for Sojourner Truth (Contest & Excerpt)”

  1. Anna Taylor Sweringen
    · March 25th, 2022 at 8:21 am · Link

    As always, Delilah, thanks for providing space for my love of the accomplishments of Black women.

  2. Alison Rush
    · March 25th, 2022 at 1:25 pm · Link

    Thank you 🙏🏻

  3. Anna Taylor Sweringen
    · March 25th, 2022 at 3:21 pm · Link

    Hi Alison, Glad to be of service.

  4. Mary Preston
    · March 25th, 2022 at 5:58 pm · Link

    It’s a worry that nothing comes to mind. I must investigate further.

  5. bn100
    · March 25th, 2022 at 6:10 pm · Link

    can’t think of any

  6. Anna Taylor Sweringen
    · March 25th, 2022 at 6:29 pm · Link

    Hi Mary, let me know what you find out. Thanks for stopping by.

  7. Anna Taylor Sweringen
    · March 25th, 2022 at 6:30 pm · Link

    Hi bn100,

    Thanks for stopping by anyway.

  8. Diane Sallans
    · March 26th, 2022 at 4:32 pm · Link

    Ruth Bader Ginsburg – she persevered – from her education, through her career including fights for women rights thru her positions a judge.

  9. Anna Taylor Sweringen
    · March 26th, 2022 at 5:47 pm · Link

    Hi Diane,

    Absolutely! The sexism thrown her way because she was a married woman pursuing a law career were mountainous. Thanks for lifting her up.

  10. Delilah
    · March 29th, 2022 at 9:22 am · Link

    Thanks to Anna for being a great guest and getting us thinking, as always!

    The winner of the gift card is…Diane Sallans! Congratulations! And Anna will be in touch!

Comments are closed.