And Ain’t I A Woman: A poem in honor of Sojourner Truth

The history of Blacks in the United States is replete with individuals who have shown exceptional insight, extreme courage, and persistence when faced with life on its own terms. Most often without powerful allies and faced with a legal system that failed to support them in their rights, black have relied principally on themselves to be change agents for themselves.

Sojourner Truth, a former slave, spoke at the Women’s Rights Convention, held in Akron, Ohio, in 1851 – a decade before the first shots of the Confederate insurrection were fired. Just for her to speak at that Convention required courage and persistence. Most of the white suffragettes did not want to hear from a Black woman.

This poem memorializes her contribution.

— NPI Literary Advocate David Kobrin

And Ain’t I A Woman

(Former slave Sojourner Truth Speaks at the Women’s Rights Convention, Akron, Ohio 1851)

Standing there
her arm, worked muscle
a bonnet that speaks the field
an apparition –
to white ladies
to speak to that hall
where mockery echoes
louder and wider
than the fields she’d slaved in
each row sown, hers
the children born, and lost
no man helped her
cross puddles
dust to her tongue
And didn’t she do it
And didn’t she say!