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 ar’n’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 ar’n’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.
the challenge/work of an artist/historical interpreter is to deliver the truth. (no pun intended) The audience must be able to feel the sense of the original delivery. It is not up to the audience to grasp the historical context…that responsibility is on the reader/actor…to bring truth to the words. To be as organic as possible so the audience can deeply feel the pain, desperation or joy. It is not a funny monologue. As a director of Black theater, every time a actor recites this piece and the audience laughs…
I cringe….something is not quite right in the delivery. I have nothing against Kerry Washington…but if she really understood the power of ‘Ain’t I A Woman” ….you would hear a pin drop…not laughter. I have also performed this Ain’t I A Woman and people take it seriously, as I deliver it. Kerry is doing a great service by attempting to tackle this moving, profound, historic statement of a African woman in America’s rights. More Black woman/storytellers should bring to life these important works for a new generation to hear & feel it. For that I commend and respect her effort. May she continue to be successful as a modern day actress who has range and passion in depicting the woman of today.
By the way…Sojourner Truth did not speak in a southern dialect…as she was not from the south…she was born in New York State and spoke with a heavy Dutch accent.