Sojourner Truth vs. Frances Joseph-Gaudet

Today two powerful, trail-blazing women face off as Sojourner Truth takes on Frances Joseph-Gaudet. In the first round, Sojourner made quick work of Soren Kierkegaard while Frances defeated John Mason Neale. The winner of this epic battle will face Absalom Jones in the Elate Eight.

Let's just state from the outset that, no, you can't vote for both. And abstaining only makes you come off as indecisive. So, read, revel in their respective accomplishments, and then vote!

Yesterday Vida Dutton Scudder upset Clare of Assisi 52% to 48%. Is Vida the first true Cinderella of Lent Madness 2016?

Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth was a preacher, activist, and all-around freedom fighter in the mid-19th century.

Her famous “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech was given in Akron, Ohio in 1851. It was extemporaneous, because she couldn’t read or write, and contemporary accounts vary wildly. “I can't read, but I can hear. I have heard the Bible and have learned that Eve caused man to sin. Well, if woman upset the world, do give her a chance to set it right side up again.” The phrase “ain’t I a woman?” never appeared in accounts of what she said until years later. That phrase appears to have sprung from the pens of the White journalists who were playing on popular assumptions of how Southern, uneducated slaves spoke. However, Sojourner herself grew up speaking exclusively Dutch in New York. From all other accounts of her speaking, she spoke impeccable English with no Southern accent, so she more than likely never used that particular phrase.

She was an incredibly popular preacher. She spoke on her unique biblical interpretations based on her life experiences--something most White audiences had never heard. “Children, who made your skin white? Was it not God? Who made mine black? Was it not the same God? Am I to blame, therefore, because my skin is black? Does it not cast a reproach on our Maker to despise a part of His children, because He has been pleased to give them a black skin? Indeed, children, it does; and your teachers ought to tell you so, and root up, if possible, the great sin of prejudice against color from your minds....

Does not God love colored children as well as white children? And did not the same Savior die to save the one as well as the other? If so, white children must know that if they go to Heaven, they must go there without their prejudice against color, for in Heaven black and white are one in the love of Jesus. "

A big part of this popularity was her dry wit. In an unidentified speech, she had a good time commenting on the fancy clothes of fellow women’s rights activists. “I'm awful hard on dress, you know. Women, you forget that you are the mothers of creation; you forget that your sons were cut off like grass by the war, and that the land was covered by their blood; you rig yourselves up in panniers and Grecian bend-backs and flummeries; yes and mothers and gray-haired grandmothers wear highheeled shoes and humps on their heads, and put them on their babies, and stuff them out so that they keel over when the wind blows.”

Buoyed by a prophetic voice, and a healthy sprinkling of humor, Sojourner spoke truth to power throughout the country at a pivotal time in history.

— Megan Castellan

Frances Joseph-Gaudet 

"Permission is hereby granted to Mrs. Frances A. Joseph to visit Police Jail at any time she feels disposed." John W. Murphy, Commissioner, Department of Police and Public Buildings, New Orleans, March 10, 1898

CONGRATULATIONS! You have won an all expense cyber-tour of the life and times of Frances Joseph-Gaudet: educator, activist, and reformer. On your cyber-tour, you will have an all-inclusive experience at locations across the globe.

Day 1:  You will travel to a log cabin in Holmesville, MS where you will experience where Frances was born to a Native American mother, and an indentured slave for a father.

Day 2:  From Mississippi, you will travel to New Orleans, LA to see Frances' next home with her grandparents. We will take a tour of the site of Straight College where Frances attended university on beautiful Canal Street in New Orleans. While downtown, we will mosey on over to St. Luke's Episcopal Church to enjoy the beauty of this worship space that houses a stained glass of Frances, and where the parish hall is dedicated in her honor. St. Luke's is Frances' national shrine. From St. Luke's we will take a tour of the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana where your church can apply for the "Gaudet Community Grant" for community endeavors that creates educational opportunities for African American children. Frances' gift of education continues to give to this day.

Day 3:  We will hop on a PLANE for Scotland! Yes, you will get to go to Scotland to experience the Women's Christian Temperance Union convention in Edinburgh where Frances assumed responsibility for young blacks convicted of misdemeanor and vagrancy. We will continue our trip abroad through London, Paris, and Belfast as Frances continues her global advocacy.

Day 4:  We will return to Louisiana where we will tour the Gaudet Normal and Industrial School, now known as the Gaudet Episcopal Home for orphans. While the home is no longer in active use, you can still apply for scholarships and other endowments through Frances' generosity. If time permits, we will tour the 22 prisons that Frances visited in her life.

Day 5:  From Louisiana, we will head to Middletown, RI to see Gaudet Middle School, the middle school attended by this blogger as proof that God has divine plans and intersections. Frances was a part of my life before I knew it.

Day 6: From Rhode Island, we will travel to Chicago, Illinois to the final resting place of Frances. Frances summed up her life by saying, "the hope that when our women read of this my mission, they may become inspired to do what they can in the same way."

You will experience poverty, international travel, education, incarceration and adoption on this journey of Frances Joseph-Gaudet. You will not be bored.

— Anna Fitch Courie

Sojourner Truth vs. Frances Joseph-Gaudet

  • Sojourner Truth (67%, 4,046 Votes)
  • Frances Joseph-Gaudet (33%, 1,951 Votes)

Total Voters: 5,997

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112 comments on “Sojourner Truth vs. Frances Joseph-Gaudet”

    1. Yes, her hospitality knew no limits. She is an inspiration for sure. I be you'll be the same way!

  1. Both of these women are awesome in their efforts on behalf of humankind. I spent much of yesterday praying for this group. I have learned so much reading about all of these "candidates." I thank you all for your thoughts and comments as we ride together toward "Canterbury." What amazing forebears in faith we have. I'll look forward to today's comments. All of you, have a blessed day.

    1. Thank you for your payers, St. Celia. Your words inspired me to say a prayer for the group as well.
      Think how many prayers, if each of us pray for the group and the world each day after we cast our vote.

  2. Oh noes! Looking at the remaining brackets I have the horrible feeling it will be Sojourner against Constance! Yikes! What a horrible choice to have to make.

    1. Yes, the voting has been so skewed toward social activists that only Julian of Norwich remains to represent for the mystics/contemplatives.

      1. Hmm, or the social activist just have such compelling stories. In the case of both Constance and Sojourner, I'm not sure if you could get much more heart wrenching stories of Christian faith and endurance.

      2. I'm going with Julian of Norwich. We re Christians, not Christian Social Workers - we are nothing without mysery.

        1. Speaking for myself, I am nothing with only mystery. I believe Mystery inspires and guides me; without it, left to my own devices and lacking inspiration, I will do as little as I can. But godly actions uninspired by mystery can still be godly. (They'll just be done by someone else, since I'll be sitting on my bum.)

  3. This was a really tough one. Both were truly amazing women whose legacies live on. How to choose between them. Finally, I decided to vote for Sojourner because of her sense of humor about the suffragettes fashions.

    1. No kidding. In my original bracket I chose Truth, but I reread the information this morning and I think how did I put Truth ahead of Frances that day. They are both incredibly amazing women and did so so much to change the world. I too think it was the comments about fashion which sadly I think is still a huge problem today. I mean really why do women still wear high heel shoes ruining their feet endangering their health??? It is a mystery to me why women wear these objects of torture.

      1. All things in moderation! While I would never consider myself a slave to fashion, I think it's fun to dress up! Love me a pretty pair of heels and a hat on Sundays, I do!

    2. Very hard choice! Finally went with Truth due to her sense of humour and the fact that she did all that years before Frances when prejudice was even greater.

    3. Both women are amazing vessels of God's grace. Both fought for civil rights for black Americans and both were deeply involved in ministry to those in prison. Like you, Deacon Carol, I checked the chronologies and gave my vote to Sojourner because she did it first. Plus she was a great preacher!

    4. Michelle C., me too. Sojourner's humor in the midst of serious things is refreshing, redemptive, and remarkable! Plus--I love the word "soujourn" so I had to vote for this woman!

  4. I'm glad that I don't have to wear are those torturous sounding things to be in fashion. Then again, who cares for fashion?

  5. I voted for Frances although it was a hard choice. Because she lives at a later time she had a few more or actually made a few more opportunities to make a significant difference in the everyday lives of poor black children. She is for me a an example of what we can actually accomplish if we but follow the path god has given to us.

  6. The powerful and hounourous words of Sojourner Truth won my vote today. How wonderful to be a part of the whole company of heaven with these two amazing women.

  7. I have a special place in my heart for people who visit prisons. Once upon a time my job was the head of a short term women's detention center for our city. People who came to visit were blessings I will never forget.

  8. Today's bloggers are at the top of their game with new and updated info.Of major interest was new data about Sojourner Truth as to what was added/surmised and what was actually TRUTH. That she spoke Dutch as a native language was really fascinating and took some of the edge off the long-lived belief that she was totally illiterate. She changed the world with all that she did have in conjunction with leading abolitionists. Blog on, me hearties!

  9. I've loved Sojourner Truth ever since I read about her in the nascent Women's Studies program at my university in 1970. I'm shocked to read that "Ain't I a Woman" was a fabrication. Wow. As I read her bio today, I perceive her to be even more amazing than I thought at the time. Frances was equally amazing. Both women were led by the Spirit and accomplished great things. In the end, I vote for Frances because it was a great travelogue and I love to travel.

    1. To be very clear, the phrase itself was a fabrication; her speech was not. In fact, if you look up the whole speech, it's both funny and devastating in the best ways.

  10. Sojourner Truth speaking so plainly to the children spoke to me today. My vote today is for her.

  11. Next year I am doing the bracket, for sure. My picks are not always the ones chosen, but it is clear at almost every vote who the winners will be. After playing this for three seasons, I am ready to go pro! Keep up the good work, and thank you for helping me with my sanity by reminding me early to relax because all of the competitors are already saints!

  12. Another tough one. I voted for Truth because I like her combination of wisdom and wit.

    1. I often find it difficult to decide whom to vote for, but predicting who will win each round is usually quite easy.

  13. Deeply attached to NOLA and Frances' devotion to one of the corporal works of mercy, but in the end I voted for Sojourner for her ability to convict consciences without the benefit of literacy. Her use of the word "flummeries" in near conjunction with "panniers and Grecian bend-backs" (had to look up the latter of those but realized that it's pretty well explained by the rest of the sentence--what we in the language game call a "gloss." Once again, a brilliant, provocative match-up! There's a hive mind as well as an SEC at work in Lent Madness!

  14. Toughest choice to date. Both speak to me profoundly. Was hoping that others' comments would help me decide. No such luck. In the end I voted for Frances because treatment of children and prisoners are so much on my mind right now.

  15. There can be no wrong votes in this match-up. My vote went to Sojourner Truth for her sense of humor, because she spoke Dutch as her first language but also did flawless English, and because I just plain admire her so much.

  16. How can I choose between these two. I voted for each of them in the previous round. I suppose I will have to vote for Frances because I, too, have lived in Middletown, RI a couple of times (Navy wife) and my oldest daughter and my son both attended Gaudet Middle School.

  17. One could not go wrong with either Saint. I have reasons to vote for both but I chose Truth because I love the fact she could speak without notes and other attributes.

  18. I'm glad to learn even more about two inspiring women of whom I knew virtually nothing before LM. The travelogue was a clever device to present the case for Frances.

    I voted for Sojourner today because of the many ways she found to talk about God when making her case. She was actually pleading God's case to those in power--without the benefit of notes!

  19. Suffering during Lent in not unusual but some of these choices are of the worst type of suffering. Both women are so wonderful.

  20. Aside from all that she did as a freedom fighter, activist and preacher, I find the fact that she spoke impeccable English a real plus. No "Ain't I a Woman?" How about "Am I Not a Woman!" Go Sojourner! Free us with the truth.

  21. Oh my God! I don't remember so many hard choices last year. Do I vote for Frances because she was an Episcopalian? Do I vote for Sojourner for her humor? A flip of a coin results in . . . Sojourner! Next up she will face Absalom! What will I do?

  22. Voting for Sojourner because there is a Presbyterian Church in my home town named in honor of her.

  23. I liked them both, connecting with Sojourner's comments on skin color and all being of God, as well as all the work that Frances did, which puts most of us to shame.

  24. I was all for Sojourner until I read your bios. My mother was president of the local Women's Christian Temperance Union, which was her passion. I was born in Rhode Island and later lived in Louisiana, so your travels with Frances took me through much of my life. As always, two great saints, but I go for Frances.

  25. One of the all time toughest choices of Lent Madness today. ... However, with the continuing helpful SEC admonishments on the theme of 'revel in their respective accomplishments', I'm getting better at this. Instead of getting all tangled up in the angst of trying to determine which was the most 'worthy', I started from the acceptance that both are and watched for some little thing that touched my heart. The trip to follow Frances' life was so clever and inspiring, she got my vote.