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Sojourner Truth is a civil rights icon, a well-known activist for women’s rights and the abolition of slavery. An editor changed her most famous speech, “Ain’t I a Woman” to make her sound “more Southern” and also less intelligent.
There are marked differences between her written speech and the one with broken English and inaccuracies that appeared in the New York Independent on April 23, 1863.
Most of what we read about Sojourner Truth’s speech, “Ain’t I a Woman” is WRONG!
You can see Sojourner Truth’s full speech from The Sojourner Truth Project’s website by Leslie Podell HERE.
Leslie Podell created a user-friendly sight to honor the legacy of Sojourner Truth:
“Throughout her adult life, she worked against a society that thought of her as less than human. Sojourner’s struggle to establish her identity is reflected in the efforts by others to control her. And she is still struggling. Her struggle to define herself as a person, a woman, a woman of color, and a citizen did not end with her speech in Akron. At a time when we are fighting for the principles of liberty and justice around the world, it is fitting that we honor the memory of one who fought her whole life for the realization of personal freedoms and human rights. Sojourner Truth’s bold assertion of her own identity, “I am a woman’s rights,” serves as a timely reminder that the fight for equality has always been, and will continue to be, a constant challenge and an ongoing rhetorical and physical process within our democratic society.”
Her written speech
This is what Soujourner Truth actually wrote and said that day in 1863:
May I say a few words? I want to say a few words about this matter.
I am a woman’s rights.
(a) I have as much muscle as any man, and can do as much work as any man.
(b) I have plowed and reaped and husked and chopped and mowed, and can any man do more than that?
I have heard much about the sexes being equal; I can carry as much as any man, and can (c) eat as much too, if (d) I can get it.
I am as strong as any man that is now.
As for intellect, all I can say is, (e) if women have a pint and man a quart – why can’t she have her little pint full?
You need not be afraid to give us our rights for fear we will take too much, for we cant take more than our pint’ll hold.
The poor men seem to be all in confusion, and dont know what to do.
Why children, if you have woman’s rights, give it to her and you will feel better.
You will have your own rights, and they wont be so much trouble.
I cant read, but I can hear.
I have heard the bible and have learned that Eve caused man to sin.
Well if woman upset the world, do give her a chance to set it right side up again.
The Lady has spoken about Jesus, how he never spurned woman from him, and she was right.
When Lazarus died, Mary and Martha came to him with faith and love and besought him to raise their brother.
And Jesus wept – and Lazarus came forth.
And how came Jesus into the world?
(f) Through God who created him and woman who bore him.
(g)Man, where is your part?
But the women are coming up blessed be God and a few of the men are coming up with them.
But man is in a tight place, the poor slave is on him, woman is coming on him, and he is surely between-a hawk and a buzzard.