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Ain't I a Woman?

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A collection of Sojourner Truth's iconic words, including her famous speech at the 1851 Women's Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio

A former slave and one of the most powerful orators of her time, Sojourner Truth fought for the equal rights of black women throughout her life. This selection of her impassioned speeches is accompanied by the words of other inspiring African-American female campaigners from the nineteenth century.

Throughout history, some books have changed the world. They have transformed the way we see ourselves - and each other. They have inspired debate, dissent, war and revolution. They have enlightened, outraged, provoked and comforted. They have enriched lives—and upended them. Now Penguin brings you a new set of the acclaimed Great Ideas, a curated library of selections from the works of the great thinkers, pioneers, radicals and visionaries whose ideas shook civilization and helped make us who we are.

ISBN-13: 9780241472361

Media Type: Paperback

Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group

Publication Date: 06-08-2021

Pages: 112

Product Dimensions: 4.40(w) x 7.09(h) x 0.29(d)

Series: Penguin Great Ideas

Sojourner Truth, born Isabella, a slave in Ulster County, New York, around 1797, became an abolitionist, orator, and preacher, and eventually an icon for strong black women. She was emancipated by state law in 1827, and the following year she moved to New York City, where she found work in wealthy households and became increasingly involved in unorthodox religious groups. In the early 1830s she joined the commune or “Kingdom” of the Prophet Matthias. By 1843 she had transformed herself into the itinerant preacher Sojourner Truth and spent most of the next 13 years in Northampton, Massachusetts. Illiterate, she dictated her autobiography to her neighbor Olive Gilbert, and the Narrative of Sojourner Truth was published in 1850. The following year Truth set out to promote her book and to speak out on abolition and women’s rights. In the 1870s Truth’s friend and informal manager Frances Titus compiled a new edition of the Narrative, adding the “Book of Life,” a scrapbook comprising essays, articles, and letters from Truth’s contemporary admirers. Truth died in Battle Creek, Michigan, in 1883, and the following year Titus published a new edition that included “A Memorial Chapter.”

Table of Contents

Note on the Text ix

'I am a woman's rights' Sojourner Truth 1

'And ain't I a woman?' 3

'What will become of the poor slaveholder?' 5

'Well have our rights; see if we don't' 7

'I shall hail you where slaveholders do not come' 11

'What has become of the love I ought to have for my children?' 13

'I told them I had Bloomers enough when I was in bondage' 16

'Does not God love colored children as well as white children?' 19

'God, what ails this constitution?' 21

'We do as much, we eat as much, we want as much' 23

'If men had not taken something that did not belong to them they would not fear' 26

'Women can work. If they can dig up stumps they can vote' 31

'I must sojourn once to the ballot-box before I die' 34

'Did Jesus ever say anything against women? Not a word' 39

'What will such lives as you live do for humanity?' 41

'I can't read a book, but I can read the people' 44

'You take no interest in the colored people' 48

'Instead of sending these people to Liberia, why can't they have a colony in the West?' 51

'Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?' 53

'We have planted the vines, they have eaten the fruits of them' Maria Stewart 56

'The free operatives of Britain manufacture the material which the slaves have produced' Sarah Parker Remond 64

'Create something … That's the life test at last' Edmonia Goodelle Highgate 69

'Often have I been told if I were a man I would be hung' Jennie Carter 73

'The best way for a man to prove that he can do a thing is to do it' Fannie Jackson Coppin 76

'We are the heirs of a past which was not our fathers' moulding' Anna Julia Cooper 82

'We are women, American women' Josephine St Pierre Ruffin 88

List of Sources 92