The Triple Hurdle

An ex-slave and woman’s rights advocate, Sojourner Truth spoke at theĀ Fourth National Woman’s Rights Convention in 1853.

“I know that it feels a kind o’ hissin’ and ticklin’ like to see a colored woman get up and tell you about things, and Woman’s Rights. We have all been thrown down so low that nobody thought we’d ever get up again; but … we will come up again, and now I’m here. . . . we’ll have our rights; see if we don’t; and you can’t stop us from them; see if you can.”

Still struggling and fighting for woman’s rights, Sojourner Truth rose again at a meeting for the American Equal Rights Association.

“There is a great stir about colored men getting their rights, but not a word about the colored women; and if colored men get their rights, and not colored women theirs, you see the colored men will be masters over the women, and it will be just as bad as it was before.”

Black women faced, what Howard Zinn referred to as the triple hurdle: “…of being abolitionists in a slave society, of being black among white reformers, and of being women in a reform movement dominated by men.” Struck by constant hurdles of discrimination, black women found themselves battered in a society where they were denied liberty and freedom. Harriet Tubman, a slave born woman who escaped into freedom, always carried a pistol, expressing her bold philosophy: “There was one of two things I had a right to, liberty or death; if I could not have one, I would have the other; for no man should take me alive…” Black women were punished and pushed into being minorites in terms of race, class and gender, continuously being looked down upon and thus stripped of their rights. Despite this, black women also played important roles in the Civil War as well as the rebuiling of the postwar South, undoubtedly displaying their passionate efforts for the equality for black men and women.