Looking Black On Today In 1851, Sojourner Truth Delivers Her Famous “Ain’t I A Woman?” Speech At Ohio Women’s Rights Convention.

1 Posted by - May 29, 2015 - Black To The Future, BLACK WOMEN, Looking Black On Today

Sojourner was renowned in her time for her speaking and singing ability. As a person who could neither read nor write, she had people read to her, especially the Bible, and from this she developed her unique voice about how the world worked and how it could be improved. She sounds like a down-to-earth preacher in many of her speeches.

Perhaps Sojourner’s most famous speech, and the one many people today know her for, was a speech she delivered in 1851 at a Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio. It is a powerful speech but it was recorded by several different people at the time. The most famous record of it is by Frances Gage, the president of the convention, who was there but didn’t record the speech until 12 years later; she put the speech in southern dialect, but Sojourner never lived in the south and, if anything, would have had a Dutch accent as Dutch was her first language. A reporter of the time recorded the speech differently.

In 1851, Truth attended the Women’s Rights Convention in Ohio. According to Frances Gage, the president of the Convention, on the second day several male ministers showed up and argued that women should not have the same rights as men. The ministers’ reasoning: women were weak, men were intellectually superior to women, Jesus was a man, and our first mother sinned.

Sojourner Truth rose and (amidst protests from some of the women who feared shed talk about abolition) delivered her short, masterful speech–invoking tenets of Christianity and using her strong, imposing presence to debunk the ministers arguments. Pointing to her well-muscled arms and referring to the hard work she performed as a slave, she allegedly declared, “And ain’t I a woman?” As to the argument that Jesus was a man, she responded: “Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.” And turning the sin of Eve argument on its head, she lectured, “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!” By all accounts, as Truth spoke, the crowd in the church rose and wildly applauded.

Kerry Washington performs speech by abolitionist and former slave, Sojourner Truth.

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