On this day 165 years ago, Isabella Baumfree, who is commonly known as Sojourner Truth, delivered a powerful speech that featured a message of equality that still resonates with us today. As a preacher, activist, and feminist abolitionist, Truth spoke to the struggles women faced in an oppressive patriarchal society that viewed women as inferior.
“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 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.”
Sojourner Truth was a woman with an unyielding thirst for freedom and equality who used her experiences to bring together members of her community and fight for the change they needed. Her message resonated with so many because she spoke about a life of injustice that was experienced widely. Truth used her platform to elevate the voices and stories of those who were not being heard.
While we have come a long way since Truth called for freedom at the Women’s Rights Convention of 1851, we know that the battle for race and gender equity still continues today. The voices of women continue to be silenced, women of color are still being paid significantly less than their counterparts, and women’s reproductive rights are still under attack.
We know that women-led movements are essential to the realization of full equality and freedom for all. Truth spoke to the power of women’s equality and its impact on the rest of the community. She reminds us that we cannot live in a world in which all genders, regardless of class, race, sexual identity or any other piece of our identity, have an equal share of power and possibility until we ensure that all voices are heard. This is why we must support and invest in grassroots organizations that are led by those who know exactly what is needed in order to achieve long-lasting change.
So, today as we honor one of our country’s most passionate activists and abolitionists, let us remember not only her story, one of triumph and tragedy, but her tenacity to free her people by fighting for their voices to be heard, even when she continuously faced odds that would break most. Her legacy lives on in the women of color at the helm of our grantee partner organizations who are on the frontlines of the movement for social justice today.