Ain’t I a Woman by Sojourner Truth

Posted on January 15, 2011


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 talking about?

That man over there said 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 me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed, and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could work better!

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 almost 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 do they call it? [“Intellect,” whispered some one near.] That’s it, honey. What’s that got to do with women’s rights or a Negroe’s 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 many rights as men because 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, all these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again!  And now that they are asking to do it, the men had better let them.

I am obliged to you for listening to me.  Old Sojourner has nothing more to say.

—  Escaped slave and American hero Sojourner Truth addresses a suffragette rally, 1851

The speech was recollected by Frances Gage some thirty years after it was given.  I have removed the unjustifiable and invented dialect in which Gage originally put it on record.