Sojourner Truth’s “On Woman’s Rights”
A collection of fifteen typographic transformations of Sojourner Truth's "On Woman's Rights" speech.
This project challenged me in ways I wasn’t quite expecting. The task was to utilize the type to alter the way a political speech was read, seen, and interpreted. Creating fifteen type transformations required a deeper translation of the speech, to think of the words and meaning in as many ways as possible. It was a process that could not be rushed or thoughtless. It made me realize the importance of typography and its integration into a design can be incredibly purposeful and powerful.
A second task arose as I worked through my typographic interventions. With Sojourner Truth’s speech, the realization that the popularized version of the speech was not representative of her true words and voice. I was compelled to tell this story through different typographic methods which focused on lost voices, the use of pronouns, the gender binary, waves of feminism, and issues of equality. In 1797, Isabella Bomfree was born into slavery in Dutch-speaking Ulster County, New York. She was bought, sold, endured harsh physical labour and faced cruel, violent punishments.
In 1827 she escaped slavery with her infant daughter and sought refuge with an Abolitionist family, who purchased her freedom for twenty dollars and helped her reunite with her five-year-old son, who was illegally sold into slavery. In 1843, Isabella Bomfree changed her name to Sojourner Truth as she embarked on a journey to preach the gospel and speak out against slavery and oppression. In 1851, Sojourner Truth spoke at the Women’s Rights Convention at the Old Stone Church in Akron, Ohio. Her friend Reverend Marius Robinson transcribed this speech, On Woman’s Rights, which was published in Volume 6 of the Anti-Slavery Bugle along with the voices of other abolitionists and women’s rights activists