It’s embarrassing to me that the first time I heard Sojourner Truth’s name was in grad school. Not high school. Not undergrad. Grad school. She has been completely eradicated from my history books.
But when I did finally hear her name for the first time, I sat up a little straighter and the hairs on the back of my neck stood up a little. Sojourner Truth. Any woman with a name like that must have something important to say. And she did.
Sojourner was born into slavery and later became an abolitionist and women’s rights activist. But what she is most known for is the day she told Her truth, to a Women’s Convention in Ohio. In 1851. She said:
Well, children, 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 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 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?
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.
And over 150 years later, my heart swelled and my soul leaned into those words as if she had just said them.
Today, when millions of men and women are marching for women and against Trump, I hold these words in my heart and blow them in a prayer to all of you.