Ain’t I a woman?
On this day in 1851, at the Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio, Sojourner Truth delivered a speech which essentially solidified the basis of intersectionality with her groundbreaking address known as, “Ain’t I a woman?”
Born into slavery as Isabella Baumfree, Truth escaped and became an advocate for the abolitionist movement and addressed the experiences of black women born into slavery. Her words are the basis for intersectionality, a term later coined by critical race theorist and law professor, Kimberlé Crenshaw.
Today and everyday, we should be honoring this monumental figure of American history. Her words are still exceptionally valid today and we need to remember them and repeat them until all Black women and femmes are safe, loved and flourishing.
“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 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 ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I could 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 them 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? [Intellect, somebody whispers] That’s it, honey. What’s that got to do with women’s rights or negro’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 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.”