Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Finally!

Yesterday Sojourner Truth took her rightful place on earth. She became the first African American woman to be memorialized with a bust in the U.S. Capitol. Now, I don't know if you've ever heard Ms Truth's "Ain't I a Woman" speech but I was fortunate enough to have gone to an HBCU where reinactments were done by students every spring of many/all the great speeches given over the years by black women. I will never forget the first year I went and a student with a loud booming voice gave Ms Truth's speech with such love and conviction, as if the very words of the speech were not enough. It had the same effect on me it must have had when Ms. Truth actually delivered the words herself at a women's rights convention in 1851. I will never be as I was before I heard that delivery. Here it is in it's entirety taken from Duane and Eva Bristow's (neighbors) family webpage.

"Sojourner walked to the podium and slowly took off her sunbonnet. Her six-foot frame towered over the audience. She began to speak in her deep, resonant voice: "Well, children, where there is so much racket, there must be something out of kilter, I think between the Negroes of the South and the women of the North - all talking about rights - the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what's all this talking about?"

Sojourner pointed to one of the ministers. "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 helps me any best place. And ain't I a woman?"

Sojourner raised herself to her full height. "Look at me! Look at my arm." She bared her right arm and flexed her powerful muscles. "I have plowed, I have planted and I have 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 man - when I could get it - and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne children and seen most of them sold into slavery, and when I cried out with a mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me. And ain't I a woman?"

The women in the audience began to cheer wildly.

She pointed to another minister. "He talks about this thing in the head. What's that they call it?"

"Intellect," whispered a woman nearby.

"That's it, honey. What's intellect got to do with women's rights or black folks' 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?"

"That little man in black there! He says women can't have as much rights as men. ‘Cause Christ wasn't a woman. She stood with outstretched arms and eyes of fire. "Where did your Christ come from?"

"Where did your Christ come from?", she thundered again. "From God and a Woman! Man had nothing to do with him!"

The entire church now roared with deafening applause.

"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 that they are asking to do it the men better let them.""


There is no transcription of the actual speech but Frances Dana Gage's version is the generally accepted one, even though there is some controversy about her version because she did not write it up until 1863.

Books by Sojourner Truth

sojournertruth.org

Timeline


This Far by Faith-PBS series


The Art of Truth Gallery

The Narrative of Sojourner Truth Awesome!

2 comments:

  1. Lowdy, Lowdy, Lowdy...you took me back in time...my daugher "played" her in a presentation at the Kennedy Center in DC when she was at Duke Ellington School of the Arts...

    From a proud parent:be on the look out for the movie, Mississippi Damned, that's being shown at the festivals...she is in the trailer for the movie and can be heard...goggle the Mississipi Damned site...

    Ok, didn't mean to take from Ms. Truth's post...she was an amazing woman...and I love the quote "...and ain't I a woman?"...

    Thanks for the post, Lady...

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