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Today let’s hear from Sojourner Truth (1797-1883), who gave this speech extemporaneously at the 1851 Women’s Convention in Akron, Ohio. She begins by addressing two parallel causes: the fight for freedom of “the negroes of the South and the women at the North.” Then she goes on to say that as a black woman, women’s rights are her cause, too.

“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 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.” Except she’s still saying it: that the rights of one group are inseparable from the rights of all.

More here.

Photo: Biography.com

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