The readings below were given by incredibly talented and accomplished afro Dutch women, who upon hearing of this project volunteered to read Sojourner's speech aloud in their contemporary Dutch dialects in hope of offering a more truthful rendition of Sojourner's authentic Dutch voice. These readings not only help to re-introduce the original transcription of Sojourner's famous speech but they are also a symbolic gesture in our post truth era that "the truth is powerful and it prevails".
In 1851 the technology to record sound had not yet been invented and speeches were transcribed by reporters who did the best they could to record accurately. The most authentic version of Sojourner Truth's, "Ain't I a woman," speech was first published in 1851 by Truth's good friend Rev. Marius Robinson in the Anti-Slavery Bugle and was titled, “On Woman’s Rights”, Library of Congress Link to Sojourner’s Speech >. Marius was in the audience that day to transcribe Sojourner’s speech for his paper. He may have misheard some words and/or missed a few as well but his intent was to provide his readers with Sojourner’s full and accurate speech. We will never know if Marius captured Sojourner’s speech exactly on that day in 1851 or exactly what her dialect sounded like, but the videos on this site help us move in the direction of truth. I hope these videos will become another reference point for people researching Sojourner Truth; and that they will offer a more historically correct and dignified perspective that will pay long overdue respect to the author of these profound words.
Sojourner’s specific Dutch dialect is officially lost and is unreconstructible. So I made a choice to represent the speech in many different contemporary Afro-Dutch dialects. These women and their readings do not claim to embody Sojourner in any way, in fact none of them are correct, but all of them are a nod to Sojourner’s authentic voice and heritage. Click on the different videos to hear these women breath new life into Sojourners original "Ain't I a woman" speech.
"It is the mind that makes the body"