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Ain't I a Woman?

Sojourner Truth (1797-1883) delivered a speech at the 1851 Women's rights convention in Akron, Ohio. There is no formal record of the speech, as Truth did not read or write, but it was reported in the "Anti-Slavery Bugle" newspaper in June 1851 and later in 1878, as recollected by Frances Gage, in, "Narrative of Sojourner Truth." The following is a composite of the two that, according to many historians, conveys Truth's oratorial power.

Well, Children, whar dar is so much racket there must be something out o’ kilter. I think that ‘twixt the Negroes of the Souf and the women at the Norf, all talkin’ ’bout rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon.

But what’s all this here talking ’bout?

That man ober there says that women needs to be helped into carriages, and lifted ober ditches, and have the best place everywhar. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or ober 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 borne 13 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 ’bout this thing in the head; what’s this they call it? [A member of the 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 your’n 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 [one of the ministers], he says women can’t have as much rights as men, ’cause Christ wasn’t a woman! Whar 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 ’lone, 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 ’em.

Obliged to you for hearing me. And now old Sojourner ain’t got nothing more to say.


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