Day 1, Feb 1, 2019: Soujourner Truth
This year, we've taken the time to craft an entire month long curriculum based on the book "Little Leaders, Bold Women in Black History" by Vashti Harrison. The curriculum is fairly simple: read a singular page from the book and engage in additional chosen readings and have a conversation internally, with your little one, or with your classroom about additional topics that can be discussed based upon the person of the day's herstory. This curriculum is designed to talk about the DEEPER issues that aren't often covered during Black History Month as well as highlight Black women who did radical work. It also engages in conversation about missed or often looked over facts about these women and what they say about this country as a whole. The book is simply a starting point for larger conversations.
This curriculum is designed to reclaim black women's stories away from white liberals, especially white feminists and present them in their proper, full contexts without the smug colorblindness they're usually attached to. All of our analyses are Pan-African and Africana Womanist (NOT Feminist and yes there is a difference).
The First Excerpt is about Sojourner Truth. The full page for her from the book was readily available online so if you don't have the book at this point, you can still participate!
"Sojourner Truth was born a slave in upstate New York under the name Isabella Baumfree. She had been promised freedom by her slave owner in 1826, before the end of slavery was set to take effect in their state. However, when he backed out on his promise, she ran away. The slave owner sold Sojourner's son to a plantation a thousand miles away in Alabama. Meanwhile, Sojourner remained in hiding in New York until emancipation took place in 1827. When the coast was clear, Sojourner filed a court case, saying her son had been sold illegally. She became one of the first Black women to file a court case in America, and even though it seemed nearly impossible, she won. She got her son back! In 1843, she changed her name to Sojourner (which means traveler) and became a preacher. She traveled the country, sharing her messages for women's rights and the abolition of slavery everwhere. She gave a famous speech in which she advocated on the behalf of black women who had often been left out of the fight for equality. The speech is known as "Ain't I a Woman?" She went on to encourage African Americans to fight on the behalf of the Union in the Civil War, for former slaves to be given places to live, and for the desegregation of streetcars. She was an agitator and a fierce activist for equality.
1. Read the page and Sojourner's Speech as it as famously known:
Aint I A Woman: As transcribed in Ebonics by Frances Dana Parker Gage
"Wall, chilern, whar dar is so much racket dar must be somethin' out o' kilter. I tink dat 'twixt de niggers of de Souf and de womin at de Norf, all talkin' 'bout rights, de white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what's all dis here talkin' 'bout?
What You Didn't Know:
The REAL Speech minus the white feminist framing:
The actual speech, "I am a Women's Rights" as recorded by Marius Robinson in the June 21, 1851, issue of the Anti-Slavery Bugle.
]I want to say a few words about this matter. I am a woman's rights. I have as much muscle as any man, and can do as much work as any man. I have plowed and reaped and husked and chopped and mowed, and can any man do more than that? I have heard much about the sexes being equal. I can carry as much as any man, and can eat as much too, if I can get it. I am as strong as any man that is now. As for intellect, all I can say is, if a woman have a pint, and a man a quart – why can't she have her little pint full? You need not be afraid to give us our rights for fear we will take too much, – for we can't take more than our pint'll hold. The poor men seems to be all in confusion, and don't know what to do. Why children, if you have woman's rights, give it to her and you will feel better. You will have your own rights, and they won't be so much trouble. I can't read, but I can hear. I have heard the bible and have learned that Eve caused man to sin. Well, if woman upset the world, do give her a chance to set it right side up again. The Lady has spoken about Jesus, how he never spurned woman from him, and she was right. When Lazarus died, Mary and Martha came to him with faith and love and besought him to raise their brother. And Jesus wept and Lazarus came forth. And how came Jesus into the world? Through God who created him and the woman who bore him. Man, where was your part? But the women are coming up blessed be God and a few of the men are coming up with them. But man is in a tight place, the poor slave is on him, woman is coming on him, he is surely between a hawk and a buzzard.
Sojourner's Story is also one of how White Feminists co-opt, erase, or change our stories for their own agenda
2. Conversations to have with yourself, your little ones, your classroom, or your co-workers and resources to further educate: