SOJOURNER TRUTH 1864
Ain't I a Woman?
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Truth's Ain't I a Woman speech.
It follows the full text transcript of
Sojourner Truth's Ain't I a Woman speech, delivered at
the Women's Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio - May 28, 1851. This
text has been compiled by the Educational Services of South
spoke in a southern dialect that might be
difficult for modern readers. Here is the speech
in modern English:]
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
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
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
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 original speech as recounted by Frances
Gage in The History of Woman Suffrage, volume 1,
co-authored with Susan B. Anthony, published in
whar dar is so much racket dar must be
somethin' out o' kilter. I tink dat 'twixt
de niggers of de Souf and de womin at de
Norf, all talkin' 'bout rights, de white men
will be in a fix pretty soon. But what's all
dis here talkin' 'bout?
Dat man ober
dar say dat womin needs to be helped into
carriages, and lifted ober ditches, and to
hab de best place everywhar. Nobody eber
helps me into carriages, or ober
mud-puddles, or gibs me any best place!"
herself to her full height, and her voice to a
pitch like rolling thunder, she asked:
And ain't I a
Look at me!
Look at my arm!
And she bared
her right arm to the shoulder, showing her
tremendous muscular power.
ploughed, and planted, and gathered into
barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I
I could work
as much and eat as much as a man, when I
could get it, and bear de lash as well! And
ain't I a woman?
I have borne
thirteen chilern, and seen 'em mos' 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?
Den dey talks
'bout dis ting in de head; what dis dey call
whispered some one near.
honey. What's dat got to do wid womin's
rights or nigger's rights? If my cup won't
hold but a pint, and yourn holds a quart,
wouldn't ye be mean not to let me have my
little half-measure full?
And she pointed
her significant finger, and sent a keen glance
at the minister who had made the argument. The
cheering was long and loud.
Den dat little
man in black dar, he say women can't have as
much rights as men, 'cause Christ wan't a
woman! Whar did your Christ come from?
couldn't have stilled that crowd, as did those
deep, wonderful tones, as she stood there with
out-stretched arms and eyes of fire. Raising her
voice still louder, she repeated,
Whar did your
Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man
had nothin' to do wid Him.
Oh, what a
rebuke that was to that little man. Turning
again to another objector, she took up the
defense of Mother Eve. I can not follow her
through it all. It was pointed, and witty, and
solemn; eliciting at almost every sentence
deafening applause; and she ended by asserting:
If de fust
woman God ever made was strong enough to
turn de world upside down all alone, dese
and she glanced
her eye over the platform
ought to be
able to turn it back, and get it right side
up again! And now dey is asking to do it, de
men better let 'em."
cheering greeted this.
'Bleeged to ye for
hearin' on me, and now ole Sojourner han't got
nothin' more to say."
scholarship has disputed whether this account,
written about 30 years after the speech was
given, is an accurate representation of Truth's
speaking style. The dialect, in particular, may
have been an addition by Gage. For more on this
dispute, see Aint I A Woman Delivered by
Sojourner Truth by About's Guide to African
American History, Jessica McElrath.]