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An Abolitionist Speaks Forcefully for Women's Rights

Women and African Americans were demanding the rights of citizenship in the 1850s. At an 1851 women's rights convention in Akron, Ohio Sojourner Truth rose and asked the president, "May I say a few words?" She then conveyed to the audience a powerful interpretation of both struggles.

I wanted to say a few words about this matter. I am a woman's rights. I have as much muscle as any man, and can do as much work as any man. 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 eat as much too, if I can get it. I am as strong as any man that is now. As for intellect, all I can say is, if a woman have a pint and a 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 can't take more than our pint’ll hold. The poor men seem to be all in confusion, and don’t know what to do. Why children, if you have woman’s rights, give them to her and you will feel better. You will have your own rights, and they won’t be so much trouble. I can’t read, but I can hear. I have heard the bible and 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? Through God who created him and woman who bore him. Man, where is your part? But the women are coming up blessed by 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, he is surely between a hawk and a buzzard.

Source | Sojourner Truth, "Sojourner Truth's Speech at the Akron, Ohio, Women's Rights Meeting," 1851, in Paul Lauter, ed. Heath Anthology of American Literature, vol. B, 5th Ed. (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2006), 2096.
Creator | Sojourner Truth
Item Type | Speech
Cite This document | Sojourner Truth, “An Abolitionist Speaks Forcefully for Women's Rights,” HERB: Resources for Teachers, accessed October 19, 2019, https://herb.ashp.cuny.edu/items/show/1274.

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