Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Sojourner...The Truth!

 In October of 1858 Sojourner Truth gave a series of lectures in Silver Lake, Indiana, on the abolition of slavery. During the course of her lectures, rumors were circulated that she was actually a man posing as a woman. At her final talk, a man challenged the notion and asked Sojourner to prove her womanhood by allowing certain women in the audience to examine her breast. The challenge was soon put to a vote and the overwhelming vote was “aye.” Many of the women in the audience were appalled by the request, but Sojourner Truth appeared undaunted. She told the men that her breasts had suckled many a white babe, to the exclusion of her own offspring, and that many of these babies had grown to be better men than those in the audience. From her place in front of the congregation Sojourner Truth revealed her breasts and told the men that it was not to her shame that she did so but to theirs.

Sources: Narrative of Sojourner Truth. A bondwoman of Olden Time, Olive Gilbert, comp. (New York: Arno, 1968 [1878]), pp. 137-139. (excerpt from Aren’t I a Woman? Female Slaves in the Plantation South, Deborah Gray White, 1985)

Note: Abridged excerpt.
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