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In Honor of Sojourner Truth

July 20, 2009

Sojourner Truth was born a slave named Isabell. But, when she began her wordly travels, she told folks her name was Sojourner because she was on her way to heaven, and gave her surname as Truth, because she was born of God, and God was Truth.  Here is what Sojourner had to say on the rights of women and slaves back in the day. It kicked ass then, and it still kicks ass now, because, as far as we have come, and it’s quite far in comparison, it hasn’t been quite far enough.

Ain’t I A Woman?
by Sojourner Truth
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.


Man, I’d have loved the opportunity to throw back a piece of apple cake and a nice  hot cup of coffee with Sojourner. I might have been able to learn something real.

Which brings my hop-skippy-jumpy mind to a quote I read this morning from Mother Theresa, which I think is appropo:

“The problem with the world,” she said, “is that we draw the circle of our family too small.”


(eta: My thanks to James Keifer at Mission of St. Clare for pointing out the link to Sojourner’s words, and to Elizabeth Lesser’s book Broken Open for providing the quote from Mother Theresa.)

2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 20, 2009 9:06 pm

    One of the gospel songs we sang Saturday night included Sojourner Truth. S


  1. In Honor of Sojourner Truth -

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