‘Ain’t I a Woman?’ – Sojourner Truth
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? 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. If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back and get it right side up again.
[Sojourner Truth (1797-1883): Extract from Ain’t I A Woman? Delivered 1851 at the Women’s Rights Convention, Akron, Ohio, as poetically recounted later, by Frances Gage, in 1863]
I’ve always loved this poem, not just because it is strong and unapologetic but because it intersects race, class and gender.
Different versions of the speech exist. For background and history, try this link: Women’s Rights National Historical Park https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/content/truth-woman-speech.html