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“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights’”Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights The name Sojourner may be familiar to you. It was the name of the wheeled robot that was sent on the expedition to Mars in 1997 to explore the surface of the planet.
The name was chosen after a world-wide competition, in which students were asked to choose a heroine, and write an essay explaining why her name should be given to the Mars Pathfinder. And Sojourner, which means a temporary resident or a traveller, was the winner. But who was Sojourner Truth? She was an African-American anti-slavery campaigner and a champion of women’s rights. She lived during the time of the American Civil war, a time when African-Americans were seenas inferior to white people, and slavery still existed.
At the same time, women were seen as inferior to men. They did not have the vote, and a ‘real’ woman was supposed to stay at home, be protected by her husband, and not have an opinion on issues of the day. As a black woman, Sojourner Truth experienced both types of discrimination, and she was one of the first people to make the connection between the rights of slaves and black people and the rights of women. And she was the first African-American woman to make public speeches about it.