LIVING HERSTORY: CELEBRATING BOLD AFRICAN-DESCENT WOMEN
Join us as we celebrate Black History Month on our blog this February. We’ll celebrate Bold Women’s Day during Women’s History Month in March. Follow this blog every Monday, as we reflect together about bold women—women whose collective voices are changing the lives of women and girls every day!
Sojourner Truth, “Ain’t I a woman?”
by Valora Starr
Isabella Baumfree gave herself the name Sojourner Truth after she became convinced that God had called her to leave the city and go into the countryside, “testifying the hope that was in her.” Her best-known speech was delivered extemporaneously, in 1851, at the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio. The speech became widely known during the Civil War by the title “Ain’t I a Woman?” The Sojourner Truth Project shows two variations of the original speech; one was re-written in a stereotypical Southern dialect. However, Truth grew up in New York, speaking Dutch as her first language. Truth helped recruit black troops (including women) for the Union Army during the Civil War. She continued to fight on behalf of women and African Americans until her death. Nell Irvin Painter wrote, “At a time when most Americans thought of slaves as male and women as white, Truth embodied a fact that still bears repeating: Among the blacks are women; among the women, there are blacks.” It is important to see her as a real person who, despite starting life enslaved, rose up and fought tirelessly with incredible conviction, faith and courage for human rights and personal freedoms. And it is important that women today continue the work.
Read: Ain’t I a Woman? From The Sojourner Truth Project. Compare the two variations.
Listen to the oral interpretation of the speech by the artist ST who grew up in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
- Why is herstory so important for us today?
- How are women of African Descent seen today?
- What did Sojourner mean by “I am a woman’s rights?”
Prayer God, our Creator, thank you for blessing the world with Sojourner, full of faith and forever in search of what is true. Give us eyes to continue the search and bold voices to speak the truth we find. Amen.
Valora Starr is the director for discipleship, Women of the ELCA.