Dee Harris-Lawrence on Sojourner Truth

“Ain't I a woman?”

SOJOURNER TRUTH (Isabella Baumfree) escaped from slavery in New York with her infant child in 1826, renaming herself and dedicating her life to a journey of truth. She became an outspoken abolitionist, women’s rights activist and famous orator. She was the first Black woman in the United States to win a court case against a white man, and she is the first African American woman to have a statue in the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. Writer/Producer Dee Harris-Lawrence was convinced by her young daughter to tell the fascinating story of Sojourner Truth, one of the most respected women of American history. Our storytellers share these astonishing women with us conversationally and unscripted; we fact-check afterwards and note any major discrepancies for accuracy.


Dee Harris-Lawrence

Denitria “Dee” Harris-Lawrence serves as executive producer/showrunner on the Warner Bros. Television drama series “All Rise” for CBS and executive producer/showrunner on the Peabody Award–winning lyrical drama “David Makes Man” for OWN. For her work on the critically acclaimed first season of “David Makes Man,” she and the show’s creative team won the prestigious Peabody Award and were nominated for both a Critics’ Choice Award for Best Drama and an IFP Gotham Award for Breakthrough Series – Long Format. “David Makes Man” was also named to several critics’ year-end “best of television” lists for 2019 including Time magazine. And just this year, “All Rise” received a NAACP Image Award nomination for Outstanding Drama Series.

Prior to joining “All Rise” and “David Makes Man,” Harris-Lawrence was co-executive producer and writer on “Unsolved: The Murders of Tupac and the Notorious B.I.G.,” “Shots Fired” and “Star.” Before that, she served in the same capacity on series such as “Zoo,” “Detroit 1-8-7,” and “Saving Grace” starring Academy-Award-winning actress Holly Hunter.” Her other writing credits include “Any Day Now,” for which she won a Prism Award, “Kevin Hill” starring Taye Diggs, “New York Undercover” and more.In her other life, she also worked with the likes of the mega-producer Quincy Jones and the multi-hyphenated, Suzanne de Passe.

Featured Woman

Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth (Isabella Baumfree) was born into slavery in 1797 in a Dutch community in upstate NY. Her harsh treatment as a slave informed her lifelong denunciations of slavery, racism and misogyny. Isabella escaped her slavemasters with her infant child and later went to court to recover other of her enslaved children, becoming the first Black woman to win a case against a white man. She renamed herself, becoming an itinerant preacher, abolitionist, renowned orator and women’s rights activist, speaking in favor of justice and equality for all. For her work during the Civil War she was invited to the White House to meet Lincoln. Her funeral was attended by over a thousand people. She was the first African-American woman to be honored with a statue in the US Capitol Building.

Her most famous speech was delivered extemporaneously at the Ohio Women’s Rights convention in 1851, and is widely known as “Ain’t I a Woman?” However, Sojourner Truth grew up speaking Dutch in New York, learning English as a second language in her teens, and it is unlikely she spoke in stereotypical Southern dialect. It is believed when her speech was written down by someone else her phrasing was changed.