Sojourner Truth

Address to the First Annual Meeting of the American Equal Rights Association - May 10, 1867

Sojourner Truth
May 10, 1867— New York City
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Well, children--I know it is hard for men to give up entirely. They must run in the old track. (Laughter. ) I was amused how men speaks up for one another. They cannot bear that a woman should say anything about the man, but they will stand here and take up the time in man's cause. But we are going, tremble or no tremble. (Laughter. )

Men is trying to help us. I know that all--the spirit they have got; and they cannot help us much until some of the spirit is taken out of them that belongs among the women. (Laughter. ) Men have got their rights, and women has not got their rights. That is the trouble. When woman gets her rights man will be right. How beautiful that will be. Then it will be peace on earth and good will to men. (Laughter and applause. ) But it cannot be that until it be right.

I am glad that men get here. They have to do it. I know why they edge off, for there is a power they cannot gainsay or resist. It will come. A woman said to me, "Do you think it will come in ten or twenty years?" Yes, it will come quickly. (Applause. ) It must come. (Applause. ) And now then the waters is troubled, and now is the time to step into the pool. There is a great deal now with the minds, and now is the time to start forth.

I was going to say that it was said to me some time ago that "a woman was not fit to have any rule. Do you want women to rule? They ain't fit. Don't you know that a woman had seven devils in her, and do you suppose that a man should put her to rule in the government?"

"Seven devils is of no account"-- (Laughter)--said I, "just behold, the man had a legion." (Loud laughter.) They never thought about that. A man had a legion-­(laughter)--and the devils didn't know where to go. That was the trouble. (Laughter and applause.) They asked if they might get among the swine; they thought it was about as good a place as where they came from. (Laughter. ) Why didn't the devils ask to go among the sheep? (Laughter.) But no. But that may have been selfish of the devils-­(laughter)--and certainly a man has a little touch of that selfishness that don't want to give the women their right. I have been twitted many times about this, and I thought how queer it is that men don't think of that. Never mind.

Look at the woman after all, the woman when they were cast out, and see how much she loved Jesus, and how she followed, and stood and waited for him. That was the faithfulness of a woman. You cannot find any faith of man like that, go where you will.

After those devils had gone out of the man he wanted to follow Jesus. But what did Jesus say? He said: "Better go back and tell what had been done for you!" (Laughter. ) He didn't seem as he wanted him to come along right away. (Laughter.) He was to be clean after that.

Look at that and look at the woman; what a mighty courage. When Mary stood and looked for Jesus, the man looked and didn't stop long enough to find out whether He was there or not; but when the woman stood there (blessed be God, I think I can see her!) she staid [sic] until she knew where He was, and said: "I will carry Him away!" Was woman true? She guarded it. The truth will reign triumphant.

I want to see, before I leave here--I want to see equality. I want to see women have their rights, and then there will be no more war. All the fighting has been for selfishness. They wanted something more than their own, or to hold something that was not their own; but when we have woman's rights, there is nothing to fight for. I have got all I want, and you have got all you want, and what do you fight for? All the battles that have even been was for selfishness--for a right that belonged to some one else, or fighting for his own right. The great fight was to keep the rights of the poor colored people. That made a great battle. And now I hope that this will be the last battle that will be in the world. Fighting for rights.

And we ought to have it all finished up now. Let us finish it up so that there be no more fighting. I have faith in God, and there is truth in humanity. Be strong women! blush not! tremble not! I know men will get up and brat, brat, brat, brat (laughter) about something which does not amount to anything except talk. We want to carry the point to one particular thing, and that is woman's rights, for nobody has any business with a right that belongs to her. I can make use of my own right. I want the same use of the same right. Do you want it? Then get it. If men had not taken something that did not belong to them they would not fear. But they tremble! They dodge! (Laughter.)

We will have nothing owned by anybody. That is the time you will be a man, if you don't get scared before it goes to parties. (Laughter.) I want you to look at it and be men and women. Men speak great lies, and it has made a great sore, but it will soon heal up. For I know

when men, good men, discuss sometimes, that they say something or other and then take it half back. You must make a little allowance. I hear them say good enough at first, but then there was a going back a little more like the old times. It is hard for them to get out of it. Now we will help you out, if you want to get out. I want you to keep a good faith and good courage. And I am going round after I get my business settled and get more equality.

People in the North, I am going round to lecture on human rights. I will shake every place I go to. (Loud laughter and applause. )

As transcribed in Campbell, K. K. (Ed.) (1989). Man Cannot Speak for Her, Volume II: Key Texts of the Early Feminists. New York, New York: Praeger Publishers.