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Sojourner Truth (c. 1797 – November 26, 1883), originally named Isabella Bomefree, then Baumfree, was a black woman who was born into slavery, and later became a prominent author, and social activist.
- "Honey, I jes' walked round an' round in a dream. Jesus loved me! I knowed it - I fel it. Jesus was my Jesus. Jesus would love me always. I did n't dare tell nobody; it was a great secret. Everything had been got away from me that I ever had; an' I thought that ef I let white folks know about this, maybe they'd get him away - so I said, 'I'll keep this close. I wont let any one know.'"
- Olive Gilbert & Sojourner Truth (1878), Narrative of Sojourner Truth, a Bondswoman of Olden Time, page 159. (text at sojournertruth.org)
- "But then there came another rush of love through my soul, an' I cried out loud,- 'Lord, Lord, I can love even de white folks!'"
- Olive Gilbert & Sojourner Truth (1878), Narrative of Sojourner Truth, a Bondswoman of Olden Time, page 159.
- "I am pleading for my people, a poor downtrodden race
Who dwell in freedom's boasted land with no abiding place
I am pleading that my people may have their rights restored,
For they have long been toiling, and yet had no reward
They are forced the crops to culture, but not for them they yield,
Although both late and early, they labor in the field.
While I bear upon my body, the scores of many a gash,
I'm pleading for my people who groan beneath the lash.
I'm pleading for the mothers who gaze in wild despair
Upon the hated auction block, and see their children there.
I feel for those in bondage—well may I feel for them.
I know how fiendish hearts can be that sell their fellow men.
Yet those oppressors steeped in guilt—I still would have them live;
For I have learned of Jesus, to suffer and forgive!
I want no carnal weapons, no machinery of death.
For I love to not hear the sound of war's tempestuous breath.
I do not ask you to engage in death and bloody strife.
I do not dare insult my God by asking for their life.
But while your kindest sympathies to foreign lands do roam,
I ask you to remember your own oppressed at home.
I plead with you to sympathize with signs and groans and scars,
And note how base the tyranny beneath the stripes and stars.
- Olive Gilbert & Sojourner Truth (1878), Narrative of Sojourner Truth, a Bondswoman of Olden Time, page 303.
- Sisters, I ain't clear what you be after. If women want any rights more than they's got, why don't they just take them, and not be talking about it?
- As quoted in Sojourner Truth : A Self-made Woman (1974) by Victoria Ortiz
- Well, children, when there is so much racket there be must something out of kilter. I think that 'twixt 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?
Ain't I a Woman? Speech (1851)
- delivered 1851, at the Women's Convention, Akron, Ohio.
- 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 ploughed 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 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?
- That little man in black there, he says women can't have as much rights as men, 'cause Jesus 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, the women together ought to be able to turn back and get it right side up again! and now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.
About Sojourner Truth
- Most will remember Ms. Truth’s oration for its vivid descriptions regarding physical labor; Black women were forced to plough, plant, herd, and build — just as men. Yet far too little attention centers on her condemnation of that system, which made sexual chattel of Black women, and then cruelly sold off Black children. This was human trafficking in the American form, and it lasted for centuries.
- Michele Goodwin, “The Racist History of Abortion and Midwifery Bans”, ACLU, (July 1, 2020)
- Works by Sojourner Truth at Project Gutenberg
- Sojourner Truth: Online Resources, from the Library of Congress
- On the trail of Sojourner Truth, Sojourner Truth Library
- Sojourner Truth Institute
- Poem form of Ain't I a Woman?
- Profile at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis Learning to Give site
- Narrative of Sojourner Truth, a Northern Slave, Emancipated from Bodily Servitude by the State of New York, in 1828 (1850)
- Narrative of Sojourner Truth; a Bondswoman of Olden Time, Emancipated by the New York Legislature in the Early Part of the Present Century; with a History of Her Labors and Correspondence, Drawn from Her "Book of Life" (1875).
- Narrative of Sojourner Truth; a Bondswoman of Olden Time, Emancipated by the New York Legislature in the Early Part of the Present Century; with a History of Her Labors and Correspondence Drawn from Her "Book of Life;" Also, a Memorial Chapter, Giving the Particulars of Her Last Sickness and Death (1884)
- The Narrative of Sojurner Truth from American Studies at the University of Virginia