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AMERICAN SHADOW HISTORY
Ain't I a Woman?
Sojourner Truth was born Isabella Baumfree in the late 1790’s to a slave holder in the North. He broke his promise to let her go free when slavery was abolished in the North, so Isabella ran away, later successfully suing her former master for the release of her son. Ms. Baumfree became a Christian and changed her name to Sojourner Truth, accepting the evangelistic ministry that she believed she was called to.
She became well recognized and highly admired as part of
the women’s suffrage, abolitionists, and voting rights for all movements. Her activism in the women’s movement brought her to the 1851 Women’s Convention in Akron, Ohio, where learned men and women met to present scientific, psycho- logical and scholarly reasons for and against women’s suffrage.
Sojourner was not invited to speak at this convention, as it was felt that her limited logic would be too simple against the brilliant men and women scheduled to present their erudite pro and con presentations. After everyone who was slated to speak finished, Sojourner went to the podium and asked for permission to speak a few words. The chair of the convention
hesitated for a moment, but not being willing to embarrass Sojourner, recognized her. This is the "gist" of her speech (note: there are more than one version). Delivered 1851 at the Women's Convention in Akron, Ohio.
By SOJOURNER TRUTH
Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that 'twixt the Negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the White men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what's all this here talking about? That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages or over mud-puddles or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman?
Look at me! Look at my arm! I have plowed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man — when I could get it — and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman?
I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman?
Then they talk about this thing in the head; what's this they call it? [member of audience whispers, "intellect"] That's it, honey. What's that got to do with women's rights or Negroes' rights? If my cup won't hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn't you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?
Then that little man in black there, he says women can't have as much rights as men, 'cause Christ wasn't a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From GOD… and… from a WOMAN!
Man! Where is Your Part?
If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it; the men better let them.
Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain't got nothing more to say.
Sojourner Truth walked away from the podium and once again, into history, as having delivered the most impactful argument at the convention.
Writer, poet, performer, and teacher Maya Angelou, whose groundbreaking autobiography, "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," brought her international prominence, is commemorated in the US Mint American Women Quarters Program.
Maya Angelou quarter rolls out;
First in US Mint women's series
WASHINGTON—The United States Mint has begun shipping the first coins in the American Women Quarters (AWQ) Program. These circulating quarters honoring Maya Angelou are manufactured at the Mint facilities in Philadelphia and Denver. Coins featuring additional honorees will begin shipping later this year and through 2025.
“It is my honor to present our Nation’s first circulating coins dedicated to celebrating American women and their contributions to American history,” said Mint Deputy Director Ventris C. Gibson. “Each 2022 quarter is designed to reflect the breadth and depth of accomplishments being celebrated throughout this historic coin program. Maya Angelou, featured on the reverse of this first coin in the series, used words to inspire and uplift.”
A writer, poet, performer, social activist, and teacher, Angelou rose to international prominence as an author after the publication of her groundbreaking autobiography, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” Angelou’s published works of verse, non-fiction, and fiction include more than 30 bestselling titles. Her remarkable career encompasses dance, theater, journalism, and social activism. The recipient of more than 30 honorary degrees, Angelou read “On the Pulse of Morning” at the 1992 inauguration of President Bill Clinton.
Angelou’s reading marked the first time an African American woman wrote and presented a poem at a Presidential inauguration. In 2010, President Barack Obama awarded Angelou the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and she was the 2013 recipient of the Literarian Award, an honorary National Book Award for contributions to the literary community.
The reverse (tails), designed by United States Mint Artistic Infusion Program (AIP) Artist Emily Damstra and sculpted by United States Mint Medallic Artist Craig A. Campbell, depicts Maya Angelou with her arms uplifted. Behind her are a bird in flight and a rising sun, images inspired by her poetry and symbolic of the way she lived. Inscriptions are “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,” “MAYA ANGELOU,” “E PLURIBUS UNUM,” and “QUARTER DOLLAR.”
The obverse (heads) depicts a portrait of George Washington originally composed and sculpted by Laura Gardin Fraser to mark George Washington’s 200th birthday. Though her work was a recommended design for the 1932 quarter, then-Treasury Secretary Mellon ultimately selected the familiar John Flanagan design. Of Fraser, Deputy Director Gibson said, “I am proud that the new obverse design of George Washington is by one of the most prolific female sculptors of the early 20th century. Laura Gardin Fraser was the first woman to design a U.S. commemorative coin, and her work is lauded in both numismatic and artistic circles. Ninety years after she intended for it to do so, her obverse design will fittingly take its place on the quarter.”
Inscriptions are “LIBERTY,” “IN GOD WE TRUST,” and “2022.” The obverse design is common to all quarters issued in the series.
Authorized by Public Law 116-330, the American Women Quarters Program features coins with reverse (tails) designs emblematic of the accomplishments and contributions of trailblazing American women. Beginning in 2022 and continuing through 2025, the Mint will issue five quarters in each of these years. The ethnically, racially, and geographically diverse group of individuals honored through this program reflects a wide range of accomplishments and fields, including suffrage, civil rights, abolition, government, humanities, science, space, and the arts.
The additional honorees in 2022 are physicist and first woman astronaut Dr. Sally Ride; Wilma Mankiller, the first female principal chief of the Cherokee Nation and an activist for Native American and women’s rights; Nina Otero-Warren, a leader in New Mexico’s suffrage movement and the first female superintendent of Santa Fe public schools; and Anna May Wong, the first Chinese American film star in Hollywood, who achieved international success despite racism and discrimination.
“Maya Angelou’s writing and activism inspired countless Americans and her legacy helped fuel greater fairness and understanding across our nation,” said Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, (D-NV), Senate sponsor of the bill. “She is exactly the type of leader
"I had in mind when Senator Fischer, Representative Lee and I wrote our bipartisan legislation to create a series of quarters honoring the contributions of American women. This coin will ensure generations of Americans learn about Maya Angelou’s books and poetry that spoke to the lived experience of Black women," Masto said.
“As a leader in the civil rights movement, poet laureate, college professor, Broadway actress, dancer, and the first female African American cable car conductor in San Francisco, Maya Angelou’s brilliance and artistry inspired generations of Americans,” said Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA), House sponsor of the bill. “I will forever cherish the private moments I had the privilege to share with Maya, from talking in her living room as sisters to her invaluable counsel throughout the challenges I faced as a Black woman in elected office.
"I am proud to have led this effort to honor these phenomenal women, who more often than not are over- looked in our country’s telling of history. If you find yourself holding a Maya Angelou quarter, may you be reminded of her words, ‘be certain that you do not die without having done something wonderful for humanity,'" Lee added.
Please consult with your local banks regarding availability of AWQ Program quarters honoring Maya Angelou in late January and early February.