Alfre Woodard channels Sojourner Truth, “Ain’t I a woman?”

We should be grateful for Sojourner Truth, we should be grateful for the women’s suffrage movement, we should be grateful for Howard Zinn‘s preservation and telling of history, and we can be grateful for inspired readings of original works by great performers like Alfre Woodard.

Alfre Woodard reads “Ain’t I a Woman?“, a speech delivered by abolitionist Sojourner Truth at the Women’s Convention in 1851. Part of a reading from Voices of A People’s History of the United States (Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove,)February 1, 2007 at All Saints Church in Pasadena, CA.

In my year at the University of Arizona I had the joy of working with David Williams’ speech department students in readers theatre.  We had a couple of performers whose readings of Sojourner Truth stirred audiences greatly (Martha Isom, where are you?).  This is a piece one does best to absorb from oral performance.  It is a piece that one should hear repeatedly, to understand.

Woodard nails this one well, I think.

Ms. Truth’s speech needs careful reflection.  She was not just speaking for women’s rights, but was lecturing the suffragists as well on their having overlooked the plight of women of color and working women, and women in poverty.  She’s talking to you, and to me, and asking us to confront our stereotypes of what women are and what women do, to recognize that women are humans, deserving of full respect for that reason alone.

Tip of the old scrub brush to the folks at

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5 Responses to Alfre Woodard channels Sojourner Truth, “Ain’t I a woman?”

  1. Information within this Web Page has prompted us to contact you personally as you appear to have a genuine interest in Sojournertruth.
    For almost two hundred years the full true story of Sojournertruth has not been told. It has been suppressed and hidden away within the pages of history.
    The rich and powerful have told their side of her story, leaving Sojournertruth standing alone declaring her understanding of freedom and justice
    She has amplified her life in her chosen spirit name of Sojournertruth. Throughout the world Christians, Afro Americans, men and women have all rejoiced in her triumphs. Isabella Baumfree, or Isabella Van Wageners, as she would later call herself, was searching for a good God fearing life.
    She wanted to embrace the Christian life style, along with helping those who crossed her path.
    While working in New York for the respectable, successful retired business man Mr Elijah Pierson she came face to face with the Prophet Matthias.
    The meeting between Isabella (Sojournertruth) and the self-proclaimed Prophet Matthias was the first contact of what could be considered the refiner’s fire years for Sojournertruth. During her time with Prophet Matthias, she experienced immorality, deception, demonic possession, false accusations, and financial ruin!
    She was in many ways spiritually, emotionally, and financially raped time and time again as she struggled to find Christianity within the Zion that Prophet Matthias was attempting to establish!

    Reflecting upon her time in New York City Sojournertruth reasoned and then concluded ‘that everything she had undertaken in the city of New York had finally proved a failure; and where her hopes had been raised the highest, there she felt the failure had been the greatest, and the disappointment most severe.’
    The dramatic experiences of Sojournertruth while in New York were undoubtedly a major turning point in her life.
    After reflection upon the activities within New York Isabella Van Wageners (Sojournertruth) concluded ‘that she had been taking part in a great drama, which was, in itself, but one great system of robbery and wrong.’
    So what did happen in New York to create such a vivid impression on her? Sojournertruth fulfilled her ‘Duty ‘by telling the ‘truth’ each time she recounted the Matthias years.
    She testifies in court under oath and states time and time again what happened as she struggled to live her Christian life style under the long dark shadow of Prophet Matthias, Elijah Pierson, Mr Mills and the Folger Family. Sojournertruth has gone to great trouble to record her version of events during the Matthias years.
    Her voice echoes down through the years crying out to be heard, understood, and accepted. While reflecting upon her trials and tribulations with Matthias, Sojournertruth said; ‘the rich rob the poor, and the poor rob one another.”
    These trying years for Sojournertruth left an indelible mark on her mind, body, and spirit. She eventually escaped the influence of Prophet Matthias and transformed herself from Isabella Van Wageners into “Sojournertruth” the name by which most people remember her. Her time with Prophet Matthias was vitally important.
    The life lessons experienced in this era helped her to become the person who is so revered and loved today. Sojournertruth wanted every person she came into contact with to know her side of the story. She would talk and testified of her experiences with Prophet Matthias on any and all occasions. She wants you the careful reader to know her full story.
    She recorded every detail for you; and wants you to fully understand what her life was like.
    Sojournertruth and her years with the Prophet Matthias have been over looked by most Biographers and Historians.
    They have in the opinion of this investigator, committed a great injustice towards Sojournertruth! The simple facts are crystal clear; Sojournertruth wants you to know what she experienced while she attempted to help Prophet Matthias establish his Zion.
    She has gone to great lengths to give her witness and her statements.
    She is crying out from the dust of the ground, it is time for the world to hear her full true story!
    Within the pages of the manuscript “Clash of the Prophets their Lost years Sojournertruth /Matthias / Joseph Smith,” you have the chance to walk hand in hand with Sojournertruth.
    Now you can read the revealing, shocking, devastating yet awe inspiring story and form your own opinions!
    Your understanding of the life of Sojournertruth may be important or even inspirational to you and your friends.
    The words, actions, and strength of this remarkable trail blazer cannot be over looked. The refiner fire years spent in New York City are vitally important yet they have been consistently overlooked.
    This is your opportunity to walk in the footsteps of Sojournertruth as she comes face to face with Robert Matthews the pseudo Prophet Matthias!
    Her experiences are unforgettable!
    She wants you to know her full story and within our web site you have the opportunity to vicariously share this experience. Without these desperately trying years the name of Sojournertruth may never have been born!
    Within the book “Clash of the Prophets their Lost years Sojournertruth / Matthias / Joseph Smith” we read: ‘The name of “Sojournertruth” is what may be called a progressive name as it has developed over time.
    When Isabella Van Wageners left New York City on the 1st June 1843 she informed Mrs Whiting who had been her employer and Landlady that she was changing her name to “SOJOURNER.” Mrs Whiting then enquired ‘What are you going east for?’
    To which Isabella responded by saying: ‘The Spirit calls me there, and I must go.’ Isabella as dictated by herself within The Narrative of Sojourner Truth which was then edited by Olive Gilbert; with the Appendix by Theodore D. Weld. Boston: (Ref: S) makes her position perfectly clear when she informs us that her new self-given name was to be “SOJOURNER.” In time and between the years of 1843 and 1850 the evidence, both direct and indirect, confirms the evolution of Isabella’s name from “SOJOURNER” into “SOJOURNER TRUTH.”
    The name of “Sojourner truth” was penned by Mr Oliver Gilbert in 1850.
    When Gilbert penned this name he placed a space between the “SOJOURNER” and the “Truth.” In time the name once again evolved and the accepted name for Isabella is now established within the hearts and minds of humanity as “SOJOURNERTRUTH.”

    The name of “SOJOURNERTRUTH” is recognised worldwide as a symbol of justice and freedom for all, regardless of nationality, gender, or religion! Whilst it cannot be proven as proof positive, it can be presented as proof probable that Sojournertruth acquired the Truth section of her name directly from Matthias himself. Robert Matthews or Prophet Matthias continually called himself “The Spirit of Truth.” Other times he would use the words “True Spirit.” Whichever way we look at the Matthias years, it’s clear to both see and understand the importance of Truth, as truth sets us free.
    The Truth section of the name Sojournertruth is, it is believed by this author, a direct result of Isabella meeting then following in the footsteps of prophet Matthias. Without Prophet Matthias the world may not know the wonderful person known today as Sojournertruth.’
    Our web site will not open to the general public for another few weeks.
    For the selected few we are extending an invitation to enter the site before the general members of the public have this same opportunity.
    Just press the link button below and you can glimpse inside our web pages.
    We trust that you will enjoy this opportunity.
    If you want to blog or share this information with your friends or followers then please do so with our full support.
    You can also write your review, and then send it to me via our contact page.
    All positive reviews will be considered for use within our advertising. Before we quote your review we will of course be in contact with you via e-mail.

    You are personally invited to view the web pages “Clash of the Prophets.”
    Link @

    Mike Wilkins.


  2. […] Alfre Woodard channels Sojourner Truth, “Ain’t I a woman?” ( […]


  3. […] be something out of kilter By Fred Clark, March 21, 2012 8:29 pmEd Darrell shared this video of Alfre Woodard channeling Sojourner Truth: Terrific presentation of an amazing speech.Happy to hear that Woodard will be playing Ouiser in an […]


  4. […] Alfre Woodard channels Sojourner Truth, “Ain’t I a woman?” ( […]


  5. […] Alfre Woodard channels Sojourner Truth, “Ain’t I a woman?” ( […]


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