Courts in the Classroom
Supreme Court of Indiana
Division of State Court Administration
30 S. Meridian Street, Ste 500
Indianapolis, IN 46204
Dr. Elizabeth R. Osborn
Public History and
2011 Outstanding Public
History Project Award
from the National Council
on Public History
The Indiana Supreme Court hosted a Spirit and Place event highlighting famed 19th century abolitionist Sojourner Truth. Despite a less than hospitable environment, Truth represented herself in two criminal trials in Indiana and won both.
The play, "Reconciling Truth, The Ordeal of Sojourner Truth in Indiana" features local Indianapolis actors and was held in the Indiana Supreme Court Courtroom on the third floor of the Indiana State House at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, November 19, 2003. It was free and open to the public.
Sojourner Truth was a former slave who traveled the country in pre-Civil War America agitating increased rights for blacks and women. Ms. Truth's legal entanglements with the Indiana court system occurred in Angola in the northeastern corner of the state.
In 1861 she was accused of coming into Indiana in violation of the then in force Article 13 of the Indiana Constitution, which prevented blacks from entering the state. Her two trials involved issues of double jeopardy and freedom of speech.
Written by Indianapolis historian, Gwendolyn Crenshaw, the play is part of a larger project known as "Over the River of Freedom: The African-American Quest for Destiny." Through this performance individuals will learn the harrowing story of Truth's trials in Angola and how they affected both her life and her work for this cause.
The play demonstrates the ultimate resolution and reconciliation of a community, a community problem and its historical significance. It also offers the general public another opportunity to remember and reflect on the past and the human condition.
The 2003 Spirit and Place festival takes place November 8 - 19, 2003 throughout Central Indiana. The theme is Remembering & Reconciling, with 100 events inspired by this fruitful idea. For more information, visit: http://www.spiritandplace.org/.