Sojourner Truth was born a slave in New York in 1795. She gained her freedom in 1827 when the state of NY freed its slaves.At the age of forty-six, she felt called by God to travel the country testifying to the sins against her people.
Her slave name was Isabella, and at this point she took the name of Sojourner Truth. She became a frequent speaker at abolitionist meetings and at feminist gatherings. She attended the First national Women’s Rights Convention in Worcester, Mass. and was the only black woman present. The following year she was an attendee at the women’s Akron, Ohio.Sojourner was not able to read or write.But she spoke at the Akron convention.
“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 pretty 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 them most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my women’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? (Intellect, someone whispers). That’s it, honey. What’s that got to do with women’s rights or negro’s rights? If my 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?
Than that little man in back there, he says women can’t have as much rights as men, ’cause Christ wasn’t 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.”
There has been a play written about Sojourner’s life. It is called, “God and a Woman.” So now we come to the present. And women do not have equality as of yet. Next year, 2013, Congress will have the opportunity to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment or ERA. Just how long will the women in America have to struggle to be legally equal? This is the time to contact your congress people and tell them, Enough is Enough. We must be equal. We can’t settle for less. Two hundred years is long enough to be America’s second class citizens. Stand up and tell congress you must be legally equal. We won’t stop until we are equal.
(Sojourner Truth quote from Feminism: The Essential HIstorical Writings” Miriam Schneir, Vintage Books 1972)