Sojourner’s Truth Essay

In 1851 Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio, Sojourner Truth, gave an incredible speech which inspired many even though she had a lack of education— she did not know how to read or write. Truth may not have had a good education but she knew how to get people thinking and how to bluntly speak the truth. Her speech, although short, provoked many to see the rotten wood underneath the gilded women’s rights movement, they were leaving many women behind. In the initial reading of the speech titled, “Ain’t I A Woman,” (1851) suggests that Sojourner Truth focuses on women’s rights as a whole when she uses examples dealing with the work ethic of women; however, Truth primarily is exposing to the audience that what little women’s rights there are do not apply to a black women through the use of repetition and irony. 

Sojourner was a big fan of irony, as we all are. Truth realized the deep, strong power of irony and used it to her advantage. Truth thundered into the audience, “Then that little man in black there, he says women can't have as much rights as men, 'cause Christ wasn't a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.” (Truth 4). Not only did truth completely flip the argument on it’s back but disproved it and made the audience question what kind of relationship they have with their religion. During this time in America, Christianity is extremely popular and by today’s standards many would be considered to be “radical Christians.” Truth knew about this and found their argument to be invalid because, theologically speaking, Christ was born between God and Mary, reminding the audience of this fact will provoke them to understand her point of view, make the audience wonder if they’ve been wrong all along. Along the lines of irony, Truth reminds us of our younger years. “If my cup won't hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn't you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?” (Truth 3). With this line Truth practically points a finger at every single opposer in the audience and declares them childish and antagonists. She also reminds us of simple moral lessons we learned at you ages that the audience seems to forget. Lesson one, don’t be a bully, lesson 2, sharing is caring. At this point Truth is treating the audience as if they were children and she treats them as so because they are harming women women which is absolutely outrageous and childish. Now with this example it seems as though Sojourner is simply arguing about all women’s rights which she is but is specifically demanding to the audience as they fight for women’s rights that they don’t forget about other black women who need lots help for the fight towards gender equality.

Remember those times when you get a song stuck in your head? The song just keeps on repeating and repeating like a nail driving into a board. That was Sojourner Truth’s intent as she used repetition. “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 ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman?” (Truth 2) the key repeated phrase being, “Ain’t I a woman.” As Truth uses this repetition she turns the finger of blame from everyone who is against women’s rights to the men and women who won’t fight for black women’s rights as well. All of these people at this convention are talking about how women must be treated with respect and equality and ways to get that into our government. But for some reason as she walks about that convention Truth is given none of that respect for no reason other than the color of her skin. Every time Truth repeats that phrase she hits the hammer on a nail into your brain makes you ask, how come white women are being given so much respect and protesting in their honor but no one will even hold open the door for Truth because she is black. When large movements like the women’s rights movement occurs there always seems to be people who belong in the group but get left out. In the labor movement they left out black people as well and in today’s LGBTQ+ movement they leave out different gender identities and transgender rights as they fight. This is what Sojourner wants to prevent in the women’s rights movement.

So in this little convent in Ohio there was a woman who has been absolutely outraged for so long that she put herself in front of this audience and pointed out their faults to them. This singular speech made thousands reimagine the women’s rights movement agenda and to make sure they included black women in the picture. From using her wit and love of her religion to nailing a rhetorical question over and over into your head Sojourner Truth effectively makes the audience reconsider the women’s rights movement and whether or not it includes all women.

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