Ain't I a Woman?

My suburban white kids whose parents have McCain/Palin signs strewn about their perfectly manicured acres didn't know who Sojourner Truth was. I suppose I'm not surprised. So, after reading them When Harriet Met Sojourner, I had them listen to Sojourner's most famous speech. I thought you might like to revisit it--scarily enough, there are plenty of ideas in it as pertinent today as they were in 1851. Look out for what Sojourner might have to say to McCain and his criticism of "spreading the wealth."

Ain't I a Woman?
Delivered 1851 at the 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.


Anonymous said...

My Kathleen just picked up Toni Morrison's Beloved after several recommends on it and said she wanted to drop it up til about 130 pages but now is so overwhelmed as a mother and a daughter and a sister with what folks got put through that she thinks it could be one of the best she's ever read. I know who S. Truth is but I had never seen this piece before, thanks for the sunlight.

enc said...

That was great. Thank you.