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Sojourner Truth: Ain't I A Woman?

Like Harriet Jacobs, former slave Sojourner Truth (ca. 1797–1883) spoke out against slavery. In her 1851 speech to the Ohio Women's Rights convention, Truth combined her anti-slavery message with an affirmation of the rights of women.

  • Grades: 1–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

"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 of the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon.

"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!"

As Tough as a Man

"Look at me! 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 13 children, and seen them sold off to slavery, and when I cried out, none but Jesus heard me!

"That man in back there says women can't have as much rights as men, 'cause Christ wasn't a woman! Where did 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! 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."

 

Adapted from Scholastic Search, March 1993.

  • Subjects:
    African American History, Civil Rights, Civics and Government, Equality, Fairness, Justice, African American, Women's History and Experience, Women's Rights Movement, Black History Month, Women's History Month
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