Sunday, May 18, 2014

ANGELINA and SARAH GRIMKE: Abolitionist Sisters

Remarkable women in history!

Angelina Grimke and her sister Sarah were born and raised in South Carolina in the pre-civil war era when women had NO legal rights to property, education, or opinions. From a wealthy southern family whose lifestyle was supported by numerous slaves they could have looked forward to a life of ease that would have included balls, dinner parties and eventually good marriages with elegant southern homes of their own. 

Instead, Angelina and Sarah chose to speak against the inequality of the times, publishing some of the most powerful anti-slavery tracts of the antebellum era, even testifying before the state legislator on African American rights. What made them unique was that they could speak first hand about the horrors and injustices of slavery. 

 They left their privileged life in the South and devoted themselves to racial and gender equality, becoming legends in their own lifetimes.

Now Sue Monk Kidd, one of my favorite authors (The Secret Life of
Bees) has written a powerful novel based on their lives. 

The Invention of Wings 
available from Read the Review...

In the early 1830s, Sarah Grimk√© and her younger sister, Angelina, were the most infamous women in America. They had rebelled so vocally against their family, society, and their religion that they were reviled, pursued, and exiled from their home city of Charleston, South Carolina, under threat of death. Their crime was speaking out in favor of liberty and equality and for African American slaves and women, arguments too radically humanist even for the abolitionists of their time. Their lectures drew crowds of thousands, even  men, and their most popular pamphlet directly inspired Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom's Cabin--published 15 years later. These women took many of the first brutal backlashes against feminists and abolitionists, but even their names are barely known now. Sue Monk Kidd became fascinated by these sisters, and the question of what compelled them to risk certain fury and say with the full force of their convictions what others had not (or could not). She discovered that in 1803, when Sarah turned 11, her parents gave her the “human present” of 10-year-old Hetty to be her handmaid, and Sarah taught Hetty to read, an act of rebellion met with punishment so severe that the slave girl died of "an unspecified disease" shortly after her beating. Kidd knew then that she had to try to bring Hetty back to life (“I would imagine what might have been," she tells us), and she starts these girls' stories here, both cast in roles they despise.

Follow the link below and listen to her 30 minute interview with Oprah. 

Here is a short five minute clip...