Sojourner Truth

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    Sojourner Truth

    Photograph of Sojourner Truth, dated 1864 (Unidentified photographer/Public domain)

    August is the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Month. To celebrate the passing of the 19th Amendment in August 18 1920 , that gave women the right to vote, we focus the next profiles to four women who dedicated themselves to fight for the rights of women to let their votes count.

    It was not a victory for all, African American women were not allowed to vote in many Southern states until 1965.

    Sojourner Truth was an African American evangelist and reformer active in the abolitionist and women’s rights movements.

    She was born Isabella Baumfree in upstate New York, as an enslaved woman. In 1826 she escaped to New York City with her infant daughter and worked as a domestic. Two years later, she recovered her son in court, the first Black woman to win such a case.

    When she left the city in 1843 to fight for freedom of other enslaved people, she took the name Sojourner Truth. She preached and debated at camp meetings, in churches, and on village streets. Her best-known speech was delivered at the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention in 1851 – Ain’t I a Woman?

    In her travels, she supported herself by selling her book, The Narrative of Sojourner Truth. She is the first African American to have a statue in the U.S. Capitol building.

    An excerpt from Sojourner Truth’s speech, “Ain’t I A Woman”:
    Note: There is no exact version of the speech. This is taken from the most used version.

    “I want to say a few words about this matter. I am a woman’s rights. [sic] I have as much muscle as any man, and can do as much work as any man. I have plowed and reaped and husked and chopped and mowed, and can any man do more than that? I have heard much about the sexes being equal. I can carry as much as any man, and can eat as much too, if I can get it. I am as strong as any man that is now. As for intellect, all I can say is, if a woman have a pint, and a man a quart – why can’t she have her little pint full? You need not be afraid to give us our rights for fear we will take too much, – for we can’t take more than our pint’ll hold. The poor men seems to be all in confusion, and don’t know what to do. Why children, if you have woman’s rights, give it to her and you will feel better. You will have your own rights, and they won’t be so much trouble. I can’t read, but I can hear. I have heard the Bible and have learned that Eve caused man to sin. Well, if woman upset the world, do give her a chance to set it right side up again.”

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