Friday, May 1, 2009

Why the Selection of a New Supreme Court Justice by President Obama Promises To Be A Real Challenge and Opportunity for the U.S. Left


This upcoming battle over President Obama's potential nominee for the Supreme Court in light of David Souter stepping down promises to be one of the most important political and ideological battles of Obama's presidency and a crucial test of whether his administration is fully prepared to go all the way to secure the appointment of a new Justice who will be an unequivocally progressive/liberal voice who will fully and vigorously protect and defend the human and civil rights of national minorities, women, labor, children, and consumers against the ongoing legal assault on these citizens and their rights by the current heinously rightwing court led by the despicable likes of Justices Anthony Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alioto, and Chief Justice John Roberts.

Further this fight (along with the looming fierce political battles over the crucial need for widespread governmental regulation of the banks, lending agencies, and financial investment institutions, passing a massive national budget as well as major reform for a new national health care plan, energy and environmental policy, and education--from preschool levels to college-- ) clearly indicates that the American Left (as relentlessly immature as it is) has its work cut out for itself and yet can still make a major contribution toward WINNING these very important and necessary battles IF it can ever seriously wean itself off the deadend infantilism of mindless carping and moaning about the perceived and actual limitations and shortcomings of Obama's personal political and ideological personality and identity long enough to do THE REAL WORK they should actually be engaged in with respect to these major issues and concerns. This means that what the Left and other progressives/radicals SHOULD be focused on instead is doing the hard and necessary work of intelligently organizing, educating, and mobilizing working people, minorities, women, and liberal middle and upper middle class professionals alike in a national broadbased COALITION of American citizens who know that the proper fight now (and forever) is with and against the dangerously reactionary--which is to say the thoroughly racist, sexist, homophobic, and imperialist Republican Party and the endless number of well financed independent rightwing organizations and academic/activist propagandists who we all had better believe are going to vociferously oppose any and all attempts by President Obama's administration as well as more the rest of us to move even a milimeter in the direction of genuine progressive change on these and other issues.

So the fight for "change" in this context is for once crystal clear and generally unambiguous--which in itself is a pleasantly refreshing change. To say that EVERYTHING depends on the independent quality, depth, and breadth of our collective national political and ideological response to the massive challenges before us is a huge understatement. This series of battles will truly require us all to THINK HARD AND LONG about precisely where we want and need to go and actually make the supreme effort to do so as well as indicate how, when, and where we want/need to actively support and defend Obama's reformist initiatives and conversely when and where we need/want to oppose them. This will of course require a truly sophisticated and nuanced theoretical, strategic, and tactical maturity, depth, understanding, and commitment that goes far beyond mere nitpicking, faultfinding, and masturbatory exercises in service to the false consciousness of "purity", moronic self righteousness, and dogmatic "infallibility" that the U.S. Left in general spends far too much valuable time, energy, and resources stupidly indulging in--especially now that Barack Obama is President.

What we all have to remember is that we have much bigger and far more important fish to fry than merely berating the Obama Administration and other Democratic Party liberals (and neoliberals) for being what and who they are (and are not). So let's all be critically and intelligently engaged at a level of discourse and activism that will actually lead us in a specific and mature direction for once. As always it's up to us...


May 2, 2009

Washington Prepares for Fight Over Any Nominee


WASHINGTON — The nation’s capital geared up Friday for a battle over a Supreme Court vacancy that appeared likely to test President Obama’s success at skirting divisive social issues, with conservative groups saying they viewed the opening created by the retirement of Justice David H. Souter as an opportunity to regroup after a series of political setbacks.

Even as Mr. Souter delivered a letter to the White House formally disclosing his intention to step down at the end of this term, liberal and conservative leaders prepared for another of the intense battles over Supreme Court appointments that have marked the past 20 years in Washington. Mr. Souter — though appointed by a Republican, the first President George Bush — has been a part of the liberal bloc of the court, so Mr. Obama’s appointment is unlikely to shift the ideological makeup of the court.

Mr. Obama, who was president of the Harvard Law Review and taught law at the University of Chicago, praised Mr. Souter’s tenure, and laid out what he was looking for in making a nomination.

“I will seek someone who understands that justice isn’t about some abstract legal theory or footnote in a casebook,” Mr. Obama said during an unscheduled appearance in the White House briefing room. “It is also about how our laws affect the daily realities of people’s lives.”

That formulation — echoing what Mr. Obama had said while campaigning — stirred concern among conservatives, who said it signaled that the president would nominate an activist judge with an expansive view of the Constitution. Anticipating that line of attack, Mr. Obama also proclaimed that his nominee would be someone “who is dedicated to the rule of law, who honors our constitutional traditions, who respects the integrity of the judicial process and the appropriate limits of the judicial role.”

Senator Patrick J. Leahy, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said he had urged Mr. Obama to meet with Republicans and Democrats to discuss prospective nominees before making his selection. Mr. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, said he intended to have confirmation hearings completed before the court convenes in the first week of October.

Asked whether he expected a reprise of the contentious nomination battles, Mr. Leahy replied: “I would hope not. But lately they have always seemed to be.”

Mr. Obama faces intense pressure to choose a woman for the vacancy, and lesser pressure to pick a black or Hispanic justice. There is only one women on the court now, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who underwent surgery in February for pancreatic cancer.

Among the candidates under consideration — a group that includes white, black and Hispanic judges and lawyers — are Sonia Sotomayor, who sits on the federal appeals court in New York, and Judge Kim M. Wardlaw, who is on the federal appeals court in California. Other leading candidates include Leah Ward Sears, who is the chief justice of the Georgia Supreme Court; Kathleen M. Sullivan, a professor at the Stanford Law School and former dean there, and Diane P. Wood, a judge on the appellate court based in Chicago.

Mr. Souter, 69, announced the end of his Supreme Court career, which began in October 1990, in a two-sentence note that was devoid of any sentiment. The vacancy leaves the White House facing another big task, at a time when Mr. Obama and Congress have been grappling with the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, two wars and a potential flu pandemic. By occupying the Senate and the White House with an ideological battle, the drama of filling a Supreme Court position seemed likely to risk complicating what Mr. Obama had intended to be his major initiative in the months ahead: passing health care legislation.

Supreme Court battles have proved fertile ground for conservative and liberal groups to raise money and rally the troops, and conservatives leaders said they were heartened by the prospect of this fight.

“There could not be a better issue to latch on to for a Republican renaissance to start building on — drawing some distinctions on issues,” said Wendy Long, counsel to the Judicial Confirmation Network, a conservative organization. “I hope for and I expect a fight.”

A coalition of conservative legal activist groups has spent the first months of the Obama administration researching the backgrounds and records of prospective nominees and charting the best ideological line of attack, said Curt Levey, the executive director of the Committee for Justice, one of the conservative groups.

Mr. Levey said the groups now expected Mr. Obama to nominate a candidate who supports abortion rights, and were focusing on other “the issues that are really in play,” like same-sex marriage, gun rights, religious rights and the death penalty, in preparing for the nomination battle.

The conservative groups have agreed to divide up responsibilities for researching potential nominees and have completed about 30 dossiers, he said.

As a senator, Mr. Obama voted against President George W. Bush’s two nominees, John G. Roberts Jr. and Samuel A. Alito Jr., and backed unsuccessful efforts to filibuster their nominations.

“I trust the president will choose a nominee for the upcoming vacancy based on their experience and even-handed reading of the law, and not their partisan leanings or ability to pass litmus tests,” said Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader.

Senior White House officials said they had been aware for weeks that Mr. Souter intended to step down at the end of the term. They said preparation for filling a vacancy had begun in the early part of the transition process, and that Mr. Obama had given them a list of names to check even before his inauguration.

On Thursday, before receiving official word from Justice Souter of his intention to step aside, senior White House officials met in the West Wing to begin mapping out a strategy for how to get a nomination through, officials said. Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who voted on six Supreme Court nominations during his time in the Senate, will advise Mr. Obama as he makes his choice, aides said, but his role will largely be limited to helping the nominee through the confirmation process.

Mr. Obama’s advisers said they were prepared for this fight and were ready to use the resources of Mr. Obama’s political organization, including its expansive e-mail list, to rally support for whoever he nominates. Liberal groups said they were gearing up not only to fight conservatives but also to make certain Mr. Obama puts forward a liberal choice.

David D. Kirkpatrick, Neil A. Lewis and Charlie Savage contributed reporting.

Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company

Thursday, April 30, 2009

African American Abolitionist and Feminist Sojourner Truth Honored at the U.S. Capitol


Michelle Obama Honors Another Great Black Woman--the legendary abolitionist and sufragist Sojourner Truth (1797-1883)


The Boston Globe

Posted by Foon Rhee, deputy national political editor April 28, 2009

For one of the few times as first lady, Michelle Obama today highlighted the history she is making, speaking of her own family's journey as she helped to unveil a statue of abolitionist Sojourner Truth -- the first black woman to be so honored at the Capitol.

"I hope that Sojourner Truth would be proud to see me, a descendant of slaves, serving as the first lady of the United States of America," Obama said at the new Capitol Visitor Center.

An early crusader for giving women the right to vote, as well as ending slavery, Truth met presidents Abraham Lincoln in 1864 and Ulysses S. Grant in 1870. She tried to vote on two occasions, but was turned away both times.

"One can only imagine what Sojourner Truth, an outspoken, tell-it-like-it-is kind of woman...would have to say about this incredible gathering, just looking down on this day, and thinking about the legacy she has left all of us -- because we are all here because, as my husband says time and time again, we stand on the shoulders of giants like Sojourner Truth," Obama added.

Her full remarks are below:

Thank you. Thank you so much. I'm not going to talk long because everybody has said just about everything that can be said. But let me tell you something, I am proud to be here.

I want to congratulate everyone who was a part of making this day possible: the NCBW, all of the elected official, C. DeLores Tucker, her family, the family of Sojourner Truth. It is just a sheer delight to have you here witnessing this.

But let's just think about this day and this gathering. It is so good to see this hall filled with so many strong women -- a few brothers in here, a few people -- (applause) -- but such a diverse group of people crowding this hall. And one can only imagine what Sojourner Truth, an outspoken, tell-it-like-it-is kind of woman -- and we all know a little something about that, right -- (applause) -- just to imagine what she would have to say about this incredible gathering, just looking down on this day, and thinking about the legacy she has left all of us -- because we are all here because, as my husband says time and time again, we stand on the shoulders of giants like Sojourner Truth. (Applause.)

And just as Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott would be pleased to know that we have a woman serving as the Speaker of the House of Representatives, I hope that Sojourner Truth would be proud to see me, a descendant of slaves, serving as the First Lady of the United States of America. (Applause.) So I am proud to be here. I am proud to be able to stand here on this day with this dedication.

And just as many young boys and girls have walked through this Capitol -- I see them now, and they see the bust of suffragists and hear the stories of the struggles of women, what they had to endure to gain the right to vote -- now many young boys and girls, like my own daughters, will come to Emancipation Hall and see the face of a woman who looks like them. (Applause.)

And all the visitors in the U.S. Capitol will hear the story of brave women who endured the greatest of humanities -- indignities. They'll hear the story of Sojourner Truth who didn't allow those indignities to destroy her spirit, who fought for her own freedom, and then used her powers, young people -- then she used her power to help others; who fought for the right to vote and for the rights of all women.

The power of this bust will not just be in the metal that delineates Sojourner Truth's face; it will also be in the message that defines her legacy.

Forever more, in the halls of one of our country's greatest monuments of liberty and equality, justice and freedom, Sojourner's Truth story will be told again and again and again and again. So now let's get on with unveiling this statue. Thank you so much.


Sojourner Truth (1797 – November 26, 1883) was the self-given name, from 1843, of Isabella Baumfree, an American slave, abolitionist, and women's rights activist. Truth was born into slavery in Swartekill, New York. Her best-known speech, Ain't I a Woman?, was delivered in 1851 at the Ohio Women's Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio.

She was one of thirteen children born to James and Elizabeth Baumfree, who were slaves of Colonel Hardenbergh. The Hardenbergh estate was in a hilly area called by the Dutch name Swartekill (just north of present-day Rifton), in the town of Esopus, New York, 95 miles north of New York City.[1] After the colonel's death, ownership of the family slaves passed to his son, Charles Hardenbergh. [2]

After the death of Charles Hardenbergh in 1806, Truth, known as Belle, was sold at an auction. She was about 9 years old and was included with a flock of sheep for $100 to John Neely, near Kingston, New York. Until she was sold, Truth spoke only Dutch.[3] She suffered many hardships at the hands of Neely, whom she later described as cruel and harsh and who once beat her with a bundle of rods. Truth previously said Neely raped and beat her daily. Neely sold her in 1808, for $105, to Martinus Schryver of Port Ewen, a tavern keeper, who owned her for 18 months. Schryver sold her in 1810, for $175, to John Dumont of West Park, New York.[4] Although this fourth owner was kindly disposed toward her, his wife found numerous ways to harass Truth and make her life more difficult.[2]

Around 1815, Truth met and fell in love with a slave named Robert from a neighboring farm. Robert's owner (Catlin) forbade the relationship; he did not want his slave to have children with a slave he did not own, because he would not own the children. Robert was savagely beaten and Truth never saw him again. Later, he died from the previous injuries.[5] In 1817, Truth was forced by Dumont to marry an older slave named Thomas. She had five children: Diana (1815), fathered by Robert; and Thomas who died shortly after birth, Peter (1821), Elizabeth (1825), and Sophia (ca. 1826), fathered by Thomas.[6]

The state of New York began, in 1799, to legislate the abolition of slavery, although the process of emancipating New York slaves was not complete until July 4, 1827. Dumont had promised Truth freedom a year before the state emancipation, "if she would do well and be faithful." However, he changed his mind, claiming a hand injury had made her less productive. She was infuriated. She continued working until she felt she had done enough to satisfy her sense of obligation to him by spinning 100 pounds of wool.

Late in 1826, Truth escaped to freedom with her infant daughter, Sophia. She had to leave her other children behind because they were not legally freed in the emancipation order until they had served as bound servants into their twenties.[3]She later said:

“ I did not run off, for I thought that wicked, but I walked off, believing that to be all right.[3] ”

She found her way to the home of Isaac and Maria Van Wagener, who took her and her baby in. Isaac offered to buy her services for the remainder of the year (until the state's emancipation took effect), which Dumont accepted for $20.[3] She lived there until the New York State Emancipation Act was approved a year later.

Truth learned that her son Peter, then 5 years old, had been sold illegally by Dumont to an owner in Alabama. With the help of the Van Wageners, she took the issue to court and, after months of legal proceedings, got back her son, who had been abused by his new owner.[2] Truth became the first black woman to go to court against a white man and win the case.

Truth had a life-changing religious experience during her stay with the Van Wageners, and became a devout Christian. In 1829 she moved with her son Peter to New York City, where she worked as a housekeeper for Elijah Pierson, a Christian Evangelist. In 1832, she met Robert Matthews, also known as Matthias Kingdom or Prophet Matthias, and went to work for him as a housekeeper.[2] In a bizarre twist of fate, Elijah Pierson died, and Robert Matthews and Truth were accused of stealing from and poisoning him. Both were acquitted and Robert Matthews moved west.[3]

In 1839, Truth's son Peter took a job on a whaling ship called the Zone of Nantucket. From 1840 to 1841, she received three letters from him, though in his third letter he told her he had sent five. When the ship returned to port in 1842, Peter was not on board and Truth never heard from him again.[2]

On June 1, 1843, Truth changed her name to Sojourner Truth and told her friends, "The Spirit calls me, and I must go." She became a Methodist, and left to make her way traveling and preaching about abolition. In 1844, she joined the Northampton Association of Education and Industry in Massachusetts. Founded by abolitionists, the organization supported women's rights and religious tolerance as well as pacifism. There were 210 members and they lived on 500 acres (2 km²), raising livestock, running a sawmill, a gristmill, and a silk factory. While there, Truth met William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass, and David Ruggles. In 1846, the group disbanded, unable to support itself.[3] In 1847, she went to work as a housekeeper for George Benson, the brother-in-law of William Lloyd Garrison. In 1849, she visited John Dumont before he moved west.[2]

Truth started dictating her memoirs to her friend Olive Gilbert, and in 1850 William Lloyd Garrison privately published her book, The Narrative of Sojourner Truth: A Northern Slave.[3] That same year, she purchased a home in Northampton for $300, and spoke at the first National Women's Rights Convention in Worcester, Massachusetts.

In 1851, she left Northampton to join George Thompson, an abolitionist and speaker. In May, she attended the Ohio Women's Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio where she delivered her famous speech Ain't I a Woman, a slogan she adopted from one of the most famous abolitionist images, that of a kneeling female slave with the caption "Am I Not a Woman and a Sister?"[7]

Reminiscences by Frances Gage
Akron Convention, Akron, Ohio, May 1851:

"There were very few women in those days who dared to "speak in meeting"; and the august teachers of the people were seemingly getting the better of us, while the boys in the galleries, and the sneerers among the pews, were hugely enjoying the discomfiture, as they supposed, of the "strong-minded." Some of the tender-skinned friends were on the point of losing dignity, and the atmosphere betokened a storm. When, slowly from her seat in the corner rose Sojourner Truth, who, till now, had scarcely lifted her head. "Don't let her speak!" gasped half a dozen in my ear. She moved slowly and solemnly to the front, laid her old bonnet at her feet, and turned her great speaking eyes to me. There was a hissing sound of disapprobation above and below. I rose and announced "Sojourner Truth," and begged the audience to keep silence for a few moments."

"The tumult subsided at once, and every eye was fixed on this almost Amazon form, which stood nearly six feet high, head erect, and eyes piercing the upper air like one in a dream. At her first word there was a profound hush. She spoke in deep tones, which, though not loud, reached every ear in the house, and away through the throng at the doors and windows."[8]
Over the next decade, Truth spoke before dozens, perhaps hundreds, of audiences. From 1851 to 1853, Truth worked with Marius Robinson, the editor of the Ohio Anti-Slavery Bugle, and traveled around that state speaking. In 1853, she spoke at a suffragist "mob convention" at the Broadway Tabernacle in New York City; that year she also met Harriet Beecher Stowe.[2] In 1856, she traveled to Battle Creek, Michigan, to speak to a group called the Friends of Human Progress. In 1858, someone interrupted a speech and accused her of being a man; Truth opened her blouse and revealed her breasts.[2][3]

Truth delivered her best-known speech in 1851 at the Ohio Women's Rights Convention. The speech has become known as Ain't I a Woman? after Truth's refrain.[9]

“Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that 'twixt the Negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what's all this here talking about? " That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man - when I could get it - and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne five children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman? Then they talk about this thing in the head; what's this they call it? [member of audience whispers, "intellect"] That's it, honey. What's that got to do with women's rights or Negroes' rights? If my cup won't hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn't you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full? Then that little man in black there, he says women can't have as much rights as men, 'cause Christ wasn't a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him. If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it. The men better let them. Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain't got nothing more to say. --Sojourner Truth

Truth sold her home in Northampton in 1857 and bought a house in Harmonia, Michigan, just west of Battle Creek.[3] According to the 1860 census, her household in Harmonia included her daughter, Elizabeth Banks (age 35), and her grandsons James Caldwell (misspelled as "Colvin"; age 16) and Sammy Banks (age 8).[2]

During the Civil War, Truth helped recruit black troops for the Union Army. Her grandson, James Caldwell, enlisted in the 54th Massachusetts Regiment. In 1864, Truth was employed by the National Freedman's Relief Association in Washington, D.C., where she worked diligently to improve conditions for African-Americans. In October of that year, she met President Abraham Lincoln.[2] In 1865, while working at the Freedman's Hospital in Washington, Truth rode in the streetcars to help force their desegregation.[2]

Truth is credited with writing a song, "The Valiant Soldiers", for the 1st Michigan Colored Regiment; it was said to be composed during the war and sung by her in Detroit and Washington, D.C. It is sung to the tune of "John Brown's Body" or "The Battle Hymn of the Republic". [11] Although Truth claimed to have written the words, it has been disputed (see Marching Song of the First Arkansas).

In 1867, Truth moved from Harmonia to Battle Creek. In 1868, she traveled to western New York and visited with Amy Post, and continued traveling all over the East Coast. At a speaking engagement in Florence, Massachusetts, after she had just returned from a very tiring trip, when Truth was called upon to speak she stood up and said,

“Children, I have come here like the rest of you, to hear what I have to say.[12] ”

In 1870, Truth tried to secure land grants from the federal government to former slaves, a project she pursued for seven years without success. While in Washington, D.C., she had a meeting with President Ulysses S. Grant in the White House. In 1872, she returned to Battle Creek and tried to vote in the presidential election, but was turned away at the polling place.[9]

Truth spoke about abolition, women's rights, prison reform, and preached to the Michigan Legislature against capital punishment. Not everyone welcomed her preaching and lectures, but she had many friends and staunch support among many influential people at the time, including Amy Post, Parker Pillsbury, Frances Gage, Wendell Phillips, William Lloyd Garrison, Laura Smith Haviland, Lucretia Mott, and Susan B. Anthony."[12]

Several days before Truth died, a reporter came from the Grand Rapids Eagle to interview her. "Her face was drawn and emaciated and she was apparently suffering great pain. Her eyes were very bright and mind alert although it was difficult for her to talk." Truth died on November 26, 1883, at her home in Battle Creek, Michigan, and was buried at Oak Hill Cemetery in Battle Creek, beside other family members.

1862 -- William Story's statue, The Libyan Sibyl", inspired by Sojourner Truth, won an award at the London World Exhibition.[3]
1892 -- Albion artist Frank Courter is commissioned to paint the meeting between Truth and President Abraham Lincoln.[2]
1981 -- Truth is inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, New York.[2]
1981 -- Feminist theorist and author bell hooks titles her first major work after Truth's "Ain't I a Woman?" speech.
1983 -- Truth is in the first group of women inducted into the Michigan Women's Hall of Fame in Lansing.[2]
1986 -- U.S. Postal Service issued a commemorative postage stamp honoring Sojourner Truth.[2][13]
1997 -- The NASA Mars Pathfinder mission's robotic rover was named "Sojourner" after her.[14]
1998 -- S.T. Writes Home appears on the web offering "Letters to Mom from Sojourner Truth," in which the Mars Pathfinder Rover at times echoes its namesake.
1999 -- The Broadway musical The Civil War includes Sojourner Truth: Ain't I a Woman. On the 1999 cast recording, it was performed by Maya Angelou.
The leftist group the Sojourner Truth Organization is named after her.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America commemorates her as a renewer of society on March 10, with Harriet Tubman.
In 2002, scholar Molefi Kete Asante listed Sojourner Truth on his list of 100 Greatest African Americans.[15]
2004 -- The King's College, located inside the Empire State Building in New York City, has a house system (modeled after Oxford University's), and each house is named after an influential leader. In 2004, they voted to name one of the houses 'The House of Sojourner Truth'.
She is commemorated in a monument of "Michigan Legal Milestones" erected by the State Bar of Michigan.[16]
She is also commemorated together with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Amelia Bloomer and Harriet Ross Tubman in the calendar of saints of the Episcopal Church on July 20.
The Library at the State University of New York at New Paltz, in New Paltz, New York, is named in her honor.
2009 -- The first black woman honored with a bust in the US Capital.[17]

Narrative of Sojourner Truth: A Northern Slave (1850). Dover Publications 1997 edition: ISBN 0-486-29899-X Penguin Classics 1998 edition: ISBN 0-14-043678-2. Introduction & notes by Nell Irvin Painter.
University of Pennsylvania online edition (html format, one chapter per page) University of Virginia online edition (HTML format, 207 kB, entire book on one page)

Carleton Mabee with Susan Mabee Newhouse, Sojourner Truth: Slave, Prophet, Legend (New York and London: New York University Press, 1993) ISBN 0-8147-5525-9 Nell Irvin Painter, Sojourner Truth: A Life, A Symbol (New York and London: W. W. Norton & Co., 1996) ISBN 0-393-31708-0 Jacqueline Sheehan, Truth: A Novel (New York: Free Press, 2003) ISBN 0-7432-4444-3 Erlene Stetson and Linda David, Glorying in Tribulation: The Lifework of Sojourner Truth (East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1994) ISBN 0-87013-337-3

References ^ Whalin, W. Terry (199ŵ7). Sojourner Truth. Barbour Publishing, Inc.. ISBN 9781593106294. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q "Amazing Life page". Sojourner Truth Institute site. Retrieved on December 28, 2006. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Sojourner Truth page". Women in History site. Retrieved on December 28, 2006. ^ "State University of New York at New Paltz". On the trail of Sojourner Truth in Ulster County, New York by Corinne Nyquist Librarian, Sojourner Truth Library. Retrieved on March 6, 2008. ^ "Sojourner Truth page". Narrative of Sojourner Truth. Retrieved on December 28, 2006. ^ Nell Irvin Painter, Sojourner Truth: A Life, A Symbol (Norton, 1996), p. 19. ^ "Virtual Exhibitions - artifacts of the Abolitionist movement page". Daughters of the American Revolution site. Retrieved on December 28, 2006. ^ "Sojourner Truth page". Women History. Retrieved on December 28, 2006. ^ a b "Sojourner Truth Page". American Suffragist Movement. Retrieved on December 29, 2006. ^ "Sojourner Truth Page". Fordham University. Retrieved on December 30, 2006. ^ "Documenting the American South". Narrative of Sojourner Truth. Retrieved on November 7, 2007. ^ a b "Sojourner Truth page". Sojourner Truth Biography. Retrieved on December 28, 2006. ^ Scott catalog # 2203, first day of issue on February 4, 1986. ^ NASA, NASA Names First Rover to Explore the Surface of Mars. Accessed December 4, 2006. ^ Asante, Molefi Kete (2002). 100 Greatest African Americans: A Biographical Encyclopedia. Amherst, New York. Prometheus Books. ISBN 1-57392-963-8. ^ Michigan Legal Milestones. ^ PRNewswire. Pelosi Remarks at Sojourner Truth Bust Unveiling, Retrieved on April 28, 2009. ^ Wood, Norman B. White Side of a Black Subject Chicago: American Publishing, 1897. sourced from "Portrait page". Retrieved on December 30, 2006.

The Global Significance of Michelle Obama


The enduring political and cultural importance of Michelle Obama's central role as U.S. 'First Lady' both in this country and abroad cannot be overstated. As an independent, socially conscious and highly accomplished woman whose grace, style, intelligence, compassion, and mature authority marks everything she does, Michelle Obama has become an inspiration for millions of women (and men) across the globe. Both the President and this nation are very fortunate to have her because of the strength, commitment, and clarity she brings to her multiple positions and roles as social and cultural activist, mother, wife, and important public liasion for the White House.


Why Michelle Obama inspires women around the globe


Michelle Obama inspires women of color around the globe
Indian woman: 'She is a new face for India'
First lady's dark skin and modest upbringing gives women hope
German woman: 'She's the perfect blend of power and civility'

April 28, 2009
By John Blake

(CNN) -- Heather Ferreira works in the slums of Mumbai, India, where she has watched thousands of women live under a "curse."

The women she meets in the squalid streets where "Slumdog Millionaire" was filmed are often treated with contempt, she says. They're considered ugly if their skin and hair are too dark. They are deemed "cursed" if they only have daughters. Many would-be mothers even abort their children if they learn they're female.

Yet lately she says Indian women are getting another message from the emergence of another woman thousands of miles away. This woman has dark skin and hair. She walks next to her husband in public, not behind. And she has two daughters. But no one calls her cursed. They call her Michelle Obama, the first lady.

"She could be a new face for India," says Ferreira, program officer for an HIV-prevention program run by World Vision, an international humanitarian group. "She shows women that it's OK to have dark skin and to not have a son. She's quite real to us."

Those who focus on Michelle Obama's impact on America are underestimating her reach. The first lady is inspiring women of color around the globe to look at themselves, and America, in fresh ways.

"She might be the first woman of color that females in male-dominated countries have seen as confident, bright, educated, articulate and persuasive," says Barbara Perry, author of "Jacqueline Kennedy: First Lady of the New Frontier."

A symbol for women around the globe

The notion of a woman being a first in anything is alien in many parts of the world. Millions of women struggle against sexual violence, discrimination and poverty, several women activists say.

But Michelle Obama offers a personal rebuke to that message. Her personal story -- born into a blue-collar family; overcoming racism and once even making more money than her husband -- makes her a mesmerizing figure to women across the globe, says Susan M. Reverby, a professor of women's studies at Wellesley College in Massachusetts.

Reverby says this is the first time many women have seen their class and color reflected in America's first lady. Watch how Michelle Obama has done during her first 100 days »

"This is someone who appeals across the usual divides," Reverby says. "She is a celebrity you can imagine being, not a celebrity you have to watch from afar."

A hint of Michelle Obama's global appeal came recently when she spoke at an all-girls school in London, England. The students came from various backgrounds: Muslim, Christian, black and white. Yet they all surged forward, shrieking and even crying, as they hugged the first lady.

Thu Nguyen, a native of Vietnam, wasn't at the London school, but she experienced a similar sense of elation when Obama became first lady.

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In her native country, she says women "are not human beings." But when Obama became the first lady, Nguyen called her niece and told her that any hard-working woman could become the first.

Vietnamese women can identify with Michelle Obama, Nguyen says.

"We have a yellow color because we're Asian, so we felt a bond with [Michelle] Obama when she became the first black first lady," says Nguyen, who works at a nail salon in South Pasadena, California.

Some women's identification with the first lady, however, goes deeper than skin color.

Sue Mbaya of Nairobi, Kenya, says the first lady inspires African woman to assert themselves in their personal and professional lives.

Many African women are conditioned to be subservient, she says. They're prevented from rising to management positions in the workplace, and their families often relegate them to taking care of household tasks while sending their brothers off to school.

But Obama is a high achiever who didn't intimidate her husband, says Mbaya, a native of Zimbabwe who is the advocacy director for World Vision's Africa's region.

"I've always liked knowing that she was Barack Obama's supervisor when they first met," Mbaya says. "He once said that he wouldn't be where he is without his wife. That really appeals to me."

Women in the West also find inspiration in Obama.

Christine Louise Hohlbaum, who lives near Munich, Germany, says the first lady impresses German women because she is a powerful public figure who doesn't seem threatening. German history is marked by charismatic leaders who wielded personal power for malevolent ends, she says.

"She's the perfect blend of power and civility. That's important in German culture," says Hohlbaum, author of "The Power of Slow: 101 Ways to Save Time in Our 24/7 World."

How does Michelle Obama define herself?

While other women have defined Obama's appeal, the first lady is refining her role.

She has talked publicly about the pressures military families face. She has encouraged healthy eating by planting a White House garden. She's opened the White House to ordinary people and children. Service to community and family seems to be her theme.

She recently drew the most attention for what she did, not said, during a visit to London. She briefly embraced Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, breaking royal protocol. The Queen, however, according to press accounts, responded warmly to the first lady's embrace.

Obama has often been compared to another regal woman: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. But Autumn Stephens, author of "Feisty First Ladies," says that Obama reminds her more of former first lady Hillary Clinton.

"But Hillary really downplayed the mom part whereas Michelle has really played it up," Stephens says. "She is straddling both worlds."

In a poll of first ladies, certain women are invariably cited by historians as the most noteworthy: Abigail Adams, Lady Bird Johnson and Eleanor Roosevelt, who is widely considered to be the most influential first lady, Stephens says.

Where would Stephens rank Michelle Obama?

"She's got the whole package," Stephens says. "She's in a class by herself." E-mail to a friend