A Dancer faces a projected image of Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth Project Performance

March 24, 8-9 PM, Plunkett Park

View the performance: https://youtu.be/gK5-WFcQ7A0

In honor of Women’s History Month, Melton Gallery collaborated with the School of Dance’s KD2 dancers in a one-night-only film and dance performance honoring Sojourner Truth and the true story behind the iconic speech she gave at the Women’s Rights Convention of 1851.

About the Sojourner Truth Project:
The Sojourner Truth Project is brought to you by Leslie Podell. The project was born out of a translation/transcription assignment for her “Documents as Objects” class at California College of the Arts. Leslie is a student at The California College of the Arts in San Francisco, California and is matriculated in the furniture making and design program at CCA. TheSojournerTruthProject.com is an open-source dynamic document.

About Sojourner Truth:
Sojourner Truth (1797-1883) was born Isabella Baumfree in Esopus, NY, an
area under Dutch control at the time. Sojourner and her family would have
spoken Dutch in their daily lives. English was her second language.
Truth emancipated herself and her infant daughter from slavery in 1826 and
became a preacher, abolitionist, and lifelong social justice activist.
Although she was not officially invited, Truth attended the Akron, Ohio
Women’s Rights Convention in 1851 and spoke her mind. The sentiments in
her speech reverberate today.
The first version of her speech was published a month later by Marius
Robinson, editor of The Anti-Slavery Bugle. Robinson had attended the
convention and recorded Truth’s words himself. It did not include the
question “Ain’t I a woman?” even once.
Frances Dana Gage was a white abolitionist, women’s rights advocate, and
fellow attendee of the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention. She published
her version of Truth’s speech entitled, “Ar’n’t I a woman?” 12 years later to
try to grow support for women’s rights. Unfortunately, Gage changed all of
Sojourner Truth’s words and manipulated her speech to include a caricature
of the dialect used by Southern enslaved people, reinforcing racist
stereotypes. Sojourner would have spoken in a distinct New York State low Dutch accent.
Until recently, Gage’s inaccurate version has been accepted as historical
fact. In 2017, Leslie Podell published The Sojourner Truth Project which
compares Truth’s speech with Gage’s version and includes readings in an
Afro-Dutch dialect to create a historically correct understanding of the way
Truth actually spoke.

Kaleidoscope Dance 2 (KD2) is an apprentice company for students in
the Department of Dance and open to students across campus who are
interested in dance performance. Company members meet four days a
week and are in engaged in a full company experience including company
class, auditions for guest works, performances, and the opportunity to
choreograph. Recent performances include the Oklahoma City Festival
of the Arts, the Oklahoma High School Dance Festival, “Alice” in
collaboration with the Department of Theatre, and in the UCO Department
of Dance Kaleidoscope Dance Concerts.

KD2 Performers:
Amiyah Underwood
Ash Marie Van Ness
Chloe Scott
Grace Jackson
Izzy Taylor
Devynne Peppiatt
Wei Nah
Hui-Cha Poos

Video Performances:
Clarice Gerard
Mynalba Abby Carolina Irons
Denise Jannah
Arlene McGuire
Eva Skeete McLeed
Gloria Wekker