Sojourner Truth’s extraordinary journey from slave to abolitionist and women’s right activist was captured most-pointedly during a speech she delivered at the Ohio Women’s Right Convention on May 29, 1851, cementing her status as a notable anti-slavery speaker in the annals of history.
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Her speech did not have a title originally, but because of the popularity of the words spoken and the repeated question therein, it became known as the “Ain’t I A Woman” speech.
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The speech was delivered in a laid-back fashion as Sojourner Truth spoke plainly to the struggles women faced in an oppressive patriarchal society that saw the female gender as weak and inferior. Truth’s speech, while impromptu, was an honest directive that focused a glaring lens on the gender inequality of the times. Sojourner Truth was a dynamic woman filled with an unyielding thirst for freedom and equality for slaves and women alike. Truth’s fight for human right and against the staggering specter of injustice was made even more remarkable considering she could neither read nor write.
Yet Sojourner Truth was able to achieve resonance among many simply by determination alone and amassed several connections during her lecturing years, particularly among those in the abolitionism movement such as Amy Post and Susan B. Anthony. From her birthplace in New York to her final resting place in Battle Creek, Mich., Sojourner Truth blazed an undeniable trail.
No one could argue with Truth’s story of triumph, tragedy and her tenacity to free her people, even when she continually faced odds that would break most men.
From a rendered version of the speech:
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.
Ms. Sojourner was one tough woman! She, indeed, is one of America’s greatest Americans!
WATCH Cicely Tyson Recite ‘Ain’t I A Woman?’