Sojourner’s Truth

This the exact quote that woke me up from my sleep:

“And ain’t I a woman?”

The full text of Sojourner Truth’s speech is provided at the end of this post, but let’s stay with her five profoundly powerful, poignant, and provocative words: And ain’t I a woman?

Ain’t I a woman even if I’m big, tall, strong, independent and capable?

Ain’t I a woman whether I’m young, older, or oldest?

Ain’t I human?  As a human don’t I wear the skin of a human being which comes in all genders, colors, and an amazing variety of configurations?

Isn’t my face the face of a human even if it’s the polar opposite of your face?

Don’t all humans deserve affection, tenderness, consideration, and joy?

Even if ______.  (You fill in the blank.)


Sojourner Truth (~1797-1883):

(Sojourner Truth was a mother, abolitionist, minister and women’s rights activist. She was born a slave named Isabella Baumfree.  She married and had five children, escaping with her youngest child shortly before slaves were liberated in New York, where she lived. She renamed herself, Sojourner Truth. The following speech was delivered in 1851 at Women’s Convention in Akron, Ohio.)

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 thirteen 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 your 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.

(Found on Internet History Sourcebook, Fordham University)


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About Candelaria Silva

Candelaria Silva-Collins is a marketing, community outreach and programming consultant; writer; and trainer/facilitator who lives in Boston, Massachusetts. She has designed and facilitated workshops on a wide variety of topics including communication, facilitation, job search skills, team building, and parenting issues. She currently coordinates the Community Membership Program of the Huntington Theatre Company. Her work as Director of ACT Roxbury was profiled in several publications, including The Creative Communities Builders Handbook. Candelaria’s children’s stories, short stories, essays and reviews have been published in local and national publications and she is an active blogger. Her publications include the booklets, Handling Rejection; Pushing through Shyness: Networking Tips when You’re Shy, Slow to Warm Up or Just don’t Feel you Belong; and Real Questions about Sex & Relationships for Teens: A Discussion Guide for Parents. She has served on the boards of Goddard College, Wheelock Family Theatre, Boston Foundation for Architecture, and Discover Roxbury. She is currently Chair, Designators of the Henderson Foundation.

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