Saturday, February 12, 2005

Margot Highlight Sojourner Truth for Black History Month

Margot: I'm going to choose Sojourner Truth because I think she made incredible contributions and is often overlooked.

She was born into slavery as Isabella Van Wagenen in 1797. She got to know her family because they were sold off. Her own marriage was decided by a slave owner. Even her own children could be sold off as some were. She would later fight in court (and win) to have her son Peter returned after he'd been sold. In 1827, she became a free woman as a result of the New York Anti Slavery Law of 1827.

As a free woman, Truth changed her name, took up preaching and became an abolitionist who wasn't afraid to face down hostile groups, not even college audiences of white men.

She is famous for that and many other things including one of the most speeches "Ain't I a Woman?" which she gave in 1851 at the Ohio Women's Rights Convention.

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 plowed 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 them 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 Christ come from? 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.