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(1797-1883)

Quotations

  • ''There is a great stir about colored men getting their rights, but not a word about colored women, and if colored men get their rights, and not colored women theirs, you see the colored men will be masters over the women, and it will be just as bad as it was before. So I'm for keeping the thing going while things are stirring; because if we wait till it is still, it will take a great while to get it going again.''
    Sojourner Truth (1797-1883), African American human rights activist and preacher. As quoted in Feminism: The Essential Historical Writings, part 3, by Miriam Schnier (1972). Speaking at an 1867 meeting of the American Equal Rights Association held in New York City. Black men would be granted the right to vote by the Fifteenth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution in 1870; the Nineteenth Amendment, granting the same right to women, would not take effect until fifty years later. Born a slave in Ulster County, New York, and named Isabella Baumfree, Truth had been freed by New York State law in 1827. In 1843, she had a religious vision which led her to change her name and become an itinerant preacher. She also became a prominent and beloved figure in the woman suffrage and anti- slavery movements.
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  • ''In the courts women have no rights, no voice; nobody speaks for them. I wish woman to have her voice there among the pettifoggers. If it is not a fit place for women, it is unfit for men to be there.''
    Sojourner Truth (1797-1883), African American human rights activist and preacher. As quoted in Feminism: The Essential Historical Writings, part 3, by Miriam Schnier (1972). Speaking at an 1867 meeting of the American Equal Rights Association held in New York City.
  • ''I have done a great deal of work, as much as a man, but did not get so much pay. I used to work in the field and bind grain, keeping up with the cradler; but men doing no more, got twice as much pay.... We do as much, we eat as much, we want as much.''
    Sojourner Truth (1797-1883), African American human rights activist and preacher. As quoted in Feminism: The Essential Historical Writings, part 3, by Miriam Schnier (1972). Speaking at an 1867 meeting of the American Equal Rights Association held in New York City. Born a slave in Ulster County, New York, and named Isabella Baumfree, Truth had been freed by New York State law in 1827. In 1843, she had a religious vision which led her to change her name and become an itinerant preacher. She also became a prominent and beloved figure in the woman suffrage and anti-slavery movements.
  • ''Let ... individuals make the most of what God has given them, have their neighbors do the same, and then do all they can to serve each other. There is no use in one man, or one nation, to try to do or be everything. It is a good thing to be dependent on each other for something, it makes us civil and peaceable.''
    Sojourner Truth (c. 1797-1883), African American suffragist and abolitionist. As quoted in History of Woman Suffrage, appendix—ch. 19, by Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1882). The former slave, itinerant preacher, and beloved activist in the woman suffrage movement said this during an 1867 visit with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and her family. This is from a letter that Stanton wrote to the World, which, she said, "seemed to please Sojourner more than any other journal." Truth was illiterate but enjoyed having newspapers read aloud to her.
  • ''I don't read such small stuff as letters, I read men and nations. I can see through a millstone, though I can't see through a spelling-book. What a narrow idea a reading qualification is for a voter!''
    Sojourner Truth (c. 1797-1883), African American suffragist and abolitionist. As quoted in History of Woman Suffrage, appendix—ch. 19, by Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1882). The former slave, itinerant preacher, and beloved activist in the woman suffrage movement said this during an 1867 visit with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and her family. This is from a letter that Stanton wrote to the World, which, she said, "seemed to please Sojourner more than any other journal." Truth was illiterate but enjoyed having newspapers read aloud to her.
  • ''I am sometimes told that "Women aint fit to vote. Why, don't you know that a woman had seven devils in her: and do you suppose a woman is fit to rule the nation?" Seven devils aint no account; a man had a legion in him.''
    Sojourner Truth (c. 1797-1883), African American suffragist and abolitionist. As quoted in History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 2, ch. 18, by Susan B. Anthony, Matilda Joslyn Gage, and herself (1882). The former slave, itinerant preacher, and beloved activist in the woman suffrage movement said this on May 10, 1867, at a national convention of the American Equal Rights Association.
  • ''I must sojourn once to the ballot-box before I die. I hear the ballot-box is a beautiful glass globe, so you can see all the votes as they go in. Now, the first time I vote I'll see if the woman's vote looks any different from the rest—if it makes any stir or commotion. If it don't inside, it need not outside.''
    Sojourner Truth (c. 1797-1883), African American suffragist and abolitionist. As quoted in History of Woman Suffrage, appendix—ch. 19, by Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1882). The former slave, itinerant preacher, and beloved activist in the woman suffrage movement said this during an 1867 visit with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and her family. This is from a letter that Stanton wrote to the World, which, she said, "seemed to please Sojourner more than any other journal." Truth was illiterate but enjoyed having newspapers read aloud to her. Her name was an assumed one, which she took after experiencing a vision. She would not live to fulfill her ambition to vote; women were granted suffrage nationwide only in 1920, thirty-seven years after Truth died.
  • ''What's dat got to do with women's rights or niggers' rights? If my cup won't hold but a pint and yourn holds a quart, wouldn't ye be mean not to let me have my little half-measure full?''
    Sojourner Truth (c. 1777-1883), African American suffragist and abolitionist; later an itinerant preacher and advocate of various social reforms including abolition, woman suffrage, an. As quoted in The Narrative of Sojourner Truth, part 2: "Book of Life," by Frances W. Titus (1875). Said at the 1851 Woman's Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio, in response to a minister who had cited women's supposedly inferior intelligence as a reason to deny them suffrage and other rights.
  • ''Religion without humanity is a poor human stuff.''
    Sojourner Truth (c. 1777-1883), African American slave; later an itinerant preacher and advocate of various social reforms including abolition, woman suffrage, and temperance. As quoted in The Narrative of Sojourner Truth, Memorial Chapter, by Frances W. Titus (added 1883; book originally copyrighted in 1875). Said near the end of her life.
  • ''You are de cause of de brutality of these poor creeters. For you're de children of those who enslaved dem.... You are ready to help de heathen in foreign lands, but don't care for the heathen right about you. I want you to sign petitions to send to Washington. Dey say there dey will do what de people want. The majority rules. If dey want anything good dey git it. If dey want anything not right dey git it too. You send these petitions, and those men in Congress will have something to spout about.''
    Sojourner Truth (c. 1777-1883), African American slave; later an itinerant preacher and advocate of various social reforms including abolition, woman suffrage, and temperance. As quoted in The Narrative of Sojourner Truth, part 2: "Book of Life," by Frances W. Titus (1875). Said c. 1860 to a gathering in Rochester, New York.

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On Woman's Dress

I'm awful hard on dress, you know.
Women, you forget
that you are the mothers of creation;
you forget that your sons
were cut off like grass by the war,
and that the land was covered by their blood;
you rig yourselves up in panniers
and Grecian bend-backs
and flummeries;

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