Sojourner Truth 1797-1883: Ain’t I a Woman?

At least one post every day will be devoted to honor Black History Month:

Aint_i_a_woman Sojourner Truth was born Isabella Baumfree. The lady was a tall African American who spoke Dutch and English. She was born a slave in Ulster County, New York, around the year 1797. Sojourner's parents were James Baumfree and Elizabeth Baumfree. Sojourner had 12 siblings. In 1826, Sojourner Truth lived with a Dutch couple, and hence, her legal name became Isabella Van Wenger or Isabella Van Wagener. Something like that. In 1843, and discovering her religious side, Isabella renamed herself Sojourner Truth. The word sojourner means temporary resident or visitor. And on her feet she was, traveling and preaching. Sojourner found her niche market and stood up for the rights of African Americans and the rights of women. She could not write but knew how to fight for human rights. Case in point was her Ain't I a Woman speech which she delivered in 1851 at the Women's Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio.

[Sojourner Truth spoke in a southern dialect that might be difficult for modern readers. Here is the speech in modern English:]

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 ar'n'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 ar'n'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.

More here.