- In The World
To celebrate Black History Month, we are taking a page from one of our favorite children's books, Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison. Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of blacks in U.S. history.
Today's spotlight shines on Sojourner Truth, 1797–1883, a remarkable woman who was born a slave and went on to become one of her day's foremost abolitionists and advocates for women's rights. Sojourner, born Isabella Baumfree, escaped her slave owner's clutches in 1827, when she was denied the freedom granted to her under New York's Gradual Emancipation Act.
In 1843, she changed her name to Sojourner and became a preacher. She was the first black women to file (and win!) a court case in America, and in 1851 she delivered "Ain't I a Woman?," one of the most famous feminist speeches in history. An excerpt:
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? I could work as much and eat as much as a man - when I could get it—and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman?
Sojourner didn't stop there—she spent her life encouraging and inspiring black people to fight and attain their equality. Thank you, Sojourner—we celebrate you!