May 29 – Truth Speaks Truth!

Posted on May 29, 2017

Who, in the mid-1800s America, was even less powerful than black men?

Black women, of course!

Born into slavery Isabella Baumfree, Truth experienced most of the miseries of slavery - being sold, being mistreated, being beaten...

Possibly even worse than beatings: being being torn from those she loved, being forced to marry against her will, being promised freedom that never comes...

Isabella Baumfree walked away from her master in 1827, and she became a preacher and a human rights activist. She changed her name to Sojourner Truth in 1843, and she worked in both the anti-slavery and the women's rights movements.

During the Women's Rights Convention, held in Akron, Ohio, on this date in 1851, several white, male Christian ministers argued that women didn't deserve the same rights as men. They gave the following reasons:

1) Women are weaker than men. 
2) Women had less intellect (in other words, were less smart) than men. 
3) Jesus was a man, not a woman.
4) The first woman, Eve, sinned. (This is from a story in the Abrahamic religions - of course there was no one "first woman.")

Sojourner Truth hadn't prepared a speech to deliver that day, but she rose up to answer the ministers' arguments. Some of the white women at the conference started to protest, to hush her, thinking she was going to talk about the abolition of slavery (and they didn't want to get distracted away from women's rights), but Truth forcefully began to address the conference, anyway.

And she quickly destroyed each of the ministers' arguments.

Here is the most famous portion from Truth's unplanned speech:
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 plowed 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?

Read her entire speech here. Or check out this video.

After Truth was done with her short, impromptu speech, almost all the conference attendees rose up on their feet and applauded wildly.

(By the way, there is more than one account of what Sojourner Truth said. Since there were no audio or video recordings of her remarks, of course, we cannot be sure exactly what she did or did not say. Check out this website for another version of Truth's speech.)

Also on this date:

Anniversary of the first successful climb of Mount Everest

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