Sojourner Truth


“Truth is powerful and it prevails.”—Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth (1787-1883) was sold as a slave at 9 years old. She eventually became a freed woman, but when her own young son was sold into slavery by her third owner, she took the matter to court and, against many odds as a black woman at the time, won her son back. Her courageous example  became a  triumph of hope against injustice. Impassioned by her Christian  belief that every man and woman had the divine right of freedom, she joined forces with other abolitionists, and became a traveling preacher. She also became an outspoken advocate for women’s rights. During the Civil War, Sojourner recruited black soldiers to fight for their own freedom. Mostly she was known as a fierce orator, traveling the country describing how it was to be treated as a slave and gaining empathy and momentum for the abolitionist cause.

This is her most famous speech, delivered at the Women’s Convention, Akron, Ohio in 1851:

*Ain’t I A Woman?

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 a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.

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.

PS* It’s likely Sojourner did not use the word “ain’t” because she was from New York state and her first language was Dutch (she was born into slavery in a Dutch household) but “Ain’t I Woman?” just sounds so good, doesn’t it? 🙂

Jocelyn Bell Burnell

“If we assume we’ve arrived: we stop searching, we stop developing.”
―Jocelyn Bell Burnell

Dr. Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell (born 1943) is a Northern Irish astrophysicist, who, as a 24-year old graduate student, discovered the phenomenon known as pulsars (signals from tiny but extremely dense dead star remnants called neutron stars) while working with a team of researchers under supervision of her advisor, Antony Hewish. The paper announcing the discoveryhad five authors (Hewish’s name being listed first, Bell’s second), but when Hewish was awarded the Nobel Prize for astronomy (along with fellow astronomer Martin Ryle), Jocelyn was not included. Many critics of this decision began to call it the “No Bell Prize.” Her attitude to the snub has been admirable, to say the least: “You can actually do extremely well out of not getting a Nobel prize, and I have had so many prizes, and so many honors, and so many awards, that actually, I think I’ve had far more fun than if I’d got a Nobel Prize – which is a bit flash in the pan: You get it, you have a fun week, and it’s all over, and nobody gives you anything else after that, cos they feel they can’t match it.

On top of the many honors Jocelyn Bell has achieved in her long teaching career: She was President of the Royal Astronomical Society, President of the Institute of Physics,  President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Pro-Chancellor of the University of Dublin, she is  currently the  President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and a visiting Professor of Astrophysics at  Oxford University. Not bad for getting ahead anyway!


Artist’s note: I love this picture because I think she looks like a Judy Blume character from my own younger years. Why shouldn’t a smart girl follow her dreams of learning and be rewarded for it? This determined, happy face says there’s no reason at all!

Julie Andrews

Perseverance is failing 19 times and succeeding the 20th.” — Julie Andrews

Dame Julie Andrews (born 1935) is an English actress, singer, author, theatre director and dancer with a career that spans 71 years and is still going strong. She is beloved by many generations all over the world.

My 12-year old niece Fiona Bergen shares a little about about why she admires Julie Andrews in the podcast.

Eugenie Clark


“I don’t get philosophical. Love fish. Love sharks. Keep the water and their habitats as clean and protected as possible.”—Eugenie Clark

Dr. Eugenie Clark (1922-2015) known as the  “Shark Lady” was a Japanese-American ichthyologist and oceanographer noted for her research on poisonous fishes of the tropical seas and on the behavior of sharks, who’s frightening reputation she worked tirelessly to improve in the public eye. Among the many accomplishments of her long and enthusiastic marine biology career, she learned to free dive as well as scuba dive, discovered several fish species, became the first person to train sharks, published books and papers, and founded the MOTE Marine Laboratory and Aquarium in Florida, which is still growing as a research institute after 60 years. She was a life-long teacher, world-traveller and researcher, sharing her passion for ocean-life and conservation. She died at the age of 92,  just months after her final dive and weeks after her last paper was published, openly grateful for living a life in the ocean, doing what she loved most. She said: “I’ve done it all, but mainly I’ve enjoyed studying fish and being underwater with them, being in their natural habitat, looking at the fish and the fish looking at me.”

It’s Earth Day, 2017! Lets remember the oceans and all the life therein are part of our world as well.

Sara Forbes Bonetta Davies

Sara Forbes Bonetta  (1843 – 1880) was a West African princess who was orphaned in a slave-hunt war, and captured into slavery.  By a remarkable turn of events, she was eventually rescued  by a British Navy captain and presented (as a gift, if you can believe it) to a charmed Queen Victoria, who adopted Sarah as her goddaughter.  She became recognized and admired throughout the royal court for her intelligence and ability to outshine her tutors in all studies. The queen eventually advised the match between Sara and her husband, a wealthy Yoruban businessman. Shortly after her marriage, Sarah gave birth to a daughter and was granted permission by the Queen to name the child Victoria – the Queen also became her godmother.


Joan Baez

“You don’t get to choose how you’re going to die. Or when. You can only decide how you’re going to live. Now.”— Joan Baez

Joan Baez (1941-) is a protest singer and activist for environmental, civil, and human rights. Born of Mexican-American descent, Joan became known for her exquisite soprano voice, singing folk songs which promoted  social justice and pacifism in the 1960s. After committing her life to the message of non-violence, she became a voice for the anti-war movement of the time. She also is credited with introducing the public to Bob Dylan, who would become the most famous singer/songwriter of the era. Though her voice was most revered in the civil rights and anti-war movements of the 1960s, she has been outspoken throughout her life about the issues she deeply cares about.
Here is a documentary on youtube about Joan. I recommend listening to a few of her songs too. Some of you may have forgotten  or maybe have never heard how special her voice was/is.

Anna Lee Fisher

“When [the main rockets] go off you may not know where you’re going, but you know you’re going somewhere.” —  Anna Lee Fisher

Dr Anna Lee Fisher (1949—) is a chemist, a medical doctor, and a NASA astronaut. In 1978, she was among the first group of six women to be selected as astronauts. In 1984, year after her first daughter was born, she became the “First Mother in Space” when she flew on the STS-51A mission. The crew’s flight patch was designed with six stars: five representing each of the crew members, and one star for her daughter.  In 1988, she took a Dr. Fisher decided to take an seven-year leave 1988 to raise her two daughters, but she went back to work with NASA again for other important missions. Talk about a Super Mom! And she’s still working, the oldest working astronaut in America.

Here is part of a great interview with Anna Lee Fisher:

“I was eight and a half months pregnant with my first daughter. My husband became an astronaut the year after me, and so when I got selected, our boss called us both into his office. He said they wanted to put me onto this flight, and how did we feel since I was having a baby? Of course I’m not going to say no. I delivered Kristen about two weeks later, on a Friday. The following Monday I showed up for the weekly astronauts meeting. I felt like I was making a statement that yes, I had a baby, but I’m here and I’m going to do my job. I never took a formal leave of absence. My schedulers tried to bunch all my training onto one or two days a week, and then I would have some days off for the first four to six weeks.”

And on her extended leave of absence later on:

“It was definitely rare. I think the reason I was allowed to do that was my boss at the time, George Abbey, wound up raising his own five children pretty much by himself. He was a much more sympathetic boss because he understood how hard it is to raise kids.”

“I do remember somebody from Europe asked me how being the arm operator on my flight helped me be a better mom. I was really stumped by that question.”


Naziq al-Abed

Naziq al-Abed—”Joan of Arc of the Arabs”

Naziq al-Abid (1898-1959) an early Syrian feminist and revolutionary, was known as the “Joan of Arc of the Arabs.” Born into a wealthy family, she traded in her privilege to live a life fighting for the rights of women and the independence of her country. When she was just 20 years old, she founded  Noor al-Fayha (Light of Damascus), the city’s first women’s organization (and publication) which provided free classes in English, poetry and religion for Muslim girls. In the Franco-Syrian war, she was the only woman who fought in the Battle of Maysaloun, for which she was made an honorary general of the Syrian army. She also founded the Syrian Red Crescent, an organization dedicated to caring for those who were wounded in war.  She also co-founded the Damascene Women’s Awakening Society  in 1925, organizing workshops to train displaced and widowed Syrian women in various crafts and promoting female intelligence. Later on, she also founded the Association for Working Women, which lobbied for the basic rights of women in the workforces, such as equal pay and sick days. Throughout her life, she worked toward emancipation for Syrian women and  led the then-largest women’s march in Syrian history in 1945. A rebellious woman, driven by her passion for justice, Naziq’s name has gone down in history as one of the most influential women of the modern Arab world.

Though I have found no direct quotes to share, I have found a few about her by others:

“She was a humble person who loved sports and horseback riding. She used to dress like middle-class Damascenes and avoided accessories and ornaments. She was the only woman at that time who wore trousers and boots and carried a whip.”

“Naziq’s family were very modern and open minded compared to the mentality at that time. Even so, they did not always like her behavior. But she did not listen to them. She did what she wanted to do.”



Juliette Gordon Low

“The work of today is the history of tomorrow and we are its makers.” —Juliette Gordon Low

Juliette Gordon Low (1860-1927) was an American philanthropist and the founder of the Girl Scouts of America. As a girl born into some privilege, she was independent-minded, adventurous, artistic, curious and compassionate. She got an education and also married a wealthy man. Unfortunately, the marriage was unhappy and ruinous—which gave Juliette reason to create a great support network, which would help her later when she began her work with girls. After her husband died, she went to England, where she met with Sir Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of Boy Scouts in 1912. The same year, she established the Girl Scouts in her hometown of Savannah, Georgia. From her first troop of 18 culturally and ethnically diverse girls to the millions of members and alumnae today, Girl Scouts has invited all girls (including those with disabilities) to grow in their potential and leadership skills. In 2012, Juliette was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the USA for her “remarkable vision and dedication to empowering girls everywhere.”

“My purpose… to go on with my heart and soul, devoting all my energies to Girl Scouts, and heart and hand with them, we will make our lives and the lives of the future girls happy, healthy and holy.”—Juliette Gordon Low



Show Still On

This week is Spring Break for these cute girls…my nieces from Chicago. On their visit to So Cal, they graced the Mission Viejo Library with their presence.  Here they are at the Groundbreaking Girls exhibit!

The show is on for another two weeks. Catch it while you can!


100 Civic Center
Mission Viejo, CA 92691

Monday-Thursday 10AM – 9PM
Friday 1PM – 5PM
Saturday 10AM – 5PM
Sunday 12PM – 5PM