19th Century: 1851
African American Literature 1619-1926
Sojourner Truth (1797-1883)
Speech to 1851 Women's Rights Convention
Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that 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 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 aren'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 aren'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 aren't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen them most all sold off into slavery, and when I cried out with a mother's grief none but Jesus heard- and aren't I a woman?
Then they talk about this thing in the head- what is it they call it? ["Intellect," someone said] That's it, honey. What's it got to do with women's rights or negroes' rights? If my cup won't hold but a pint and yours holds a quart, would you be mean not to let me have my 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 are asking to do it, the men'd better let them.
Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner has nothing more to say.