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"Ain't I a Woman?" by Sojourner Truth

"Ain't I a Woman?" by Sojourner Truth

Author: Grace Ortega

Students will recall and use Schaffer Format in a timed writing assignment.  

Students will predict the original audience's reaction to Sojourner Truth's speech.

Students will infer the purpose of Sojourner Truth's extemporaneous speech Ain't I a Woman?

Students will develop a logical argument on women's suffrage based on the text.

Students will cite evidence from the text to support their commentary in the essay.

Students will formulate an opinion derived from the text.

Students will critique and analyze women's suffrage in the nineteenth century.

Students will prove their opinions in timed writing assignment.

The teacher will stand at the front of the classroom and instruct the students to open to Sojourner Truth's extemporaneous speech Ain't I a Women? included in their 50: Essays A Portable Anthology textbooks. The teacher will provide context to the speech by briefly explaining why and how abolishinist, such as Sojourner Truth, were fighting to end slavery and women's suffrage. The teacher will project at the front of the classroom a website that the teacher created online. The teacher will use the website to show a photo of the author with a brief background. The website will display vocabulary words included in the text with a photo that represents the definition. The teacher will use the website to review the vocabulary words and defintions with students. Next, the teacher will instruct students to write the vocabulary words and definitions on a piece of paper using the Cornell Notes template. The teacher will project at the front of the classroom the post-reading question "How do you think Sojourner Truth's audience reacted to her speech?" The teacher will inform students that at the end of the reading they will be asked to answer this question using supportive evidence from the text. The discussion topic will be displayed at the front of the classroom while the students are reading. The students will begin reading aloud Ain't I a Women? from the textbook. The teacher will use the class roster to select students to read. After the students have completed reading, the teacher will verbally summarize the text and ask students to raise their hands to answer the post-reading question, "How do you think Sojourner Truth's audience reacted to her speech?" Teacher will clarify that answers should include textual evidence and support. If students do not volunteer then the teacher will select students to answer. Next, the teacher will verbally explain that Truth's speech is successfully effective because of the power words and arguments that she uses to prove her stance on women's rights. The teacher will communicate to the students that they are able to influence others with the use of powerful words.

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  • "How Will Your Words Create Change?"
  • Cornell Notes
  • Graphic Organizer
  • Timed Essay

Sojourner Truth

  • Born in 1797 as Isabella Baumfree
  • Freed from slavery in 1827
  • Traveling preacher arguing abolition and women's rights

Source: [Sojourner Truth, Three-quarter Length Portrait, Standing, Wearing Spectacles, Shawl, and Peaked Cap, Right Hand Resting on Cane]. Digital image. Library of Congress. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Oct. 2014., Cohen, Samuel S. 50 Essays: A Portable Anthology. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2007. Print.

Post-Reading Discussion

After reading, you will be asked the following question:

"How do you think Sojourner Truth's audience reacted to her speech?"

Group Discussion

Find a section in Sojouner's speech that powerfully supports her purpose. Why is this powerful?

Timed Writing Assignment


  • Written in Schaffer Format
  • Use vocabulary words 
  • Use support from the text
  • Due at the end of class. Do not talk after completing the assignment. Please review your paragraph for errors if you are finished before class is over. 
  • You will turn in the written paragraph after the bell rings at the back desk closest to the door


Imagine that you were in the audience when Truth delivered this speech in 1851. What perceptions of her might you have had? How would Truth's speech have influenced your point of view on women's rights?


Sojourner Truth's 1851 speech, Ain't I a Women?, was an extemporaneous speech that was spoken at a women's rights convention during a time when women did not have the same rights as men. Imagining that I was in the audience when Truth delivered her speech, I would have perceived Truth to be a courageous and intelligent abolishinist that was going to make her voice heard no matter how controversial it may be. Truth challenged a "little man in black" from the audience who said that "women can't have as much rights as men 'cause Christ wasn't a women!" by arguing that Christ came from "God and a women! Man had nothing to do with Him!" (432). Truth bravely used a controversial issue, such as religion and the genesis of Christ, to powerfully demonstrate her purpose. My point of view on women's rights would have been influenced by Truth's ability to use powerful and challenging arguments and I would have fought for equality with Truth.