Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Sojourner Truth and Kerry Washington

If there is one woman I could say I look up to the most in the public eye right now it would be Shonda Rhimes. She is single handedly changing television and changing the way we talk and the way we think about women (and PEOPLE for that matter).  Her shows are some of my favorites to watch not only because she has such a distinct writing voice, but also because she creates female characters that are complex and interesting. Admittedly a TV addict, one of my favorite parts of watching a show is becoming invested in the fandom, too. I often find bonus features, cast interviews and behind-the-scenes content to be just interesting as the show itself. Thus, I was on a "Kerry Washington Youtube Binge" the other day when I discovered this video of her reciting the speech, "Ain't I A Woman?" which was originally given by Sojourner Truth at a Women's Rights Convention in 1851. Embarrassingly, I had never heard much of Sojourner Truth before. However, I was so blown away with the speech that I immediately watched it three more times in a row. In this speech she articulates so much of what we have been discussing in class: Who is included in the historical memory of social movements and why? What are the social conditions that determine who is a woman? How do women who are marginalized in ways other than gender face a different reality?

It's interesting to note that Kerry Washington recited this speech as part of a play called Voices of A People's History of the United States.  According to their website, "Voices of A People's History of the United States seeks to bring to light little known voices from US history, including those of women, African Americans, Native Americans, immigrants and laborers... Voices also arranges for readings combining professional actors with students and readings also entirely of students to engage at all levels of the dramatic and educational process, from selecting texts, to interpreting them, to adding new voices to the performances." To me, this kind of project really answers the question we posed in class of how do we work to redress some of the historical memory that has shaped the way we glorify some heroes while silencing other heroes.

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