“Ain’t I a Woman?” Speech at the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention

On May 29th, 1851, Sojourner Truth, an abolitionist and women’s rights activist, delivered her famous “Ain’t I A Woman?” speech at the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio.

This convention was one of many that brought together a variety of activists who later helped to win the passage of the 19th amendment. The activists at this convention were inspired by the Declaration of Rights and Sentiments created at the Seneca Falls convention of 1848. This Declaration described women’s grievances and demands for their rights to equality as U.S. citizens, and the conversation continued in Akron, Ohio. The Ohio Women’s Rights Convention is most well known for being the venue in which Sojourner’s “Ain’t I A Woman?” speech took place.

Though there are different versions of her speech, one published a month after the speech was given, by Reverend Marius Robinson, and one twelve years after the speech was given, published by Frances Gage, both touch on the intersectionality that exists between feminism and anti-racism. In Gage’s inaccurate transcript, Truth says “I think that betwixt the Negroes of the South and the women at the North all talking about rights, these white men going to be in a fix pretty soon.” In Robinson’s historically correct transcript, Truth says “But man is in a tight place, the poor slave is on him, woman is coming on him, and he is surely between-a hawk and a buzzard.” Both versions of Sojourner Truth’s speech present the idea of white feminists and black feminists working together to simultaneously defeat the patriarchy and abolish slavery, rather than to let white feminism drown out black women’s voices.

Podell, Leslie. “Compare the Two Speeches.” The Sojourner Truth Project, www.thesojournertruthproject.com/compare-the-speeches/.

History.com Editors. “Seneca Falls Convention.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 10 Nov. 2017, www.history.com/topics/womens-rights/seneca-falls-convention.

“Ain't I A Woman?” Learning for Justice, www.learningforjustice.org/classroom-resources/texts/aint-i-a-woman.

Associated Place(s)

Event date:

29 Spring 1851