“I ask no favors for my sex. I surrender not our claim to equality. All I ask of our brethren is, that they will take their feet from off our necks, and permit us to stand upright on that ground which God designed us to occupy.”
Sarah Grimke knew what was up! And today we celebrate what would have been her 223rd birthday.
[Girl is looking good for being in her second century.]
Sarah and her sister Angelina were two early activists for abolition and women’s rights. Born into a wealthy slave-owning family on a plantation South Carolina, the women quickly grew to despise the institution of slavery. Sarah was self taught, often secretly studying her father’s law books. She wanted to be a lawyer, but due to familial and societal limitations against educating women, she was forbidden. When her sister Angelina was born in 1805, Sarah vowed to “guide and direct [this] precious child.” This cemented her commitment to creating a better world, one she and her sister could succeed in and be proud of.
[Angelina also looking fly at the cool age of 210.]
After accompanying her father to Philadelphia for his medical treatment, Sarah was helped by a Quaker family and later moved north to officially joined the Quaker faith. Her sister (pictured above) joined her soon after, and the sisters began fighting to abolish slavery, eventually becoming outcasts in their home state. However, the sisters also faced criticism in the North, as women were not often on the forefront of social movements (or so people thought…). While Angelina was known for being a dynamic and outspoken public figure, Sarah was shyer and relied on her powerful writing skills to express her feminist beliefs. After facing much criticism over their place as females in the movement against slavery, Sarah Grimke wrote her famous Letters on the Equality of the Sexes. The sisters soon cemented their legacy as leaders in the fight for women’s rights as well as abolition.
If you want to read more about the Grimke sisters, check out the links below. I also recommend reading the lovely historical fiction book The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. The story chronicles the lives of Sarah Grimke and a fictional female slave who is given to Sarah on her 11th birthday. It’s a breathtaking story of friendship and family that I honestly couldn’t put down. Plus it opened me up to a part of history I (almost shamefully) never knew existed! Reading is the best!
Happy Birthday, Sarah Grimke! You and your sister were two badass Quakers. (And how often do we get to say that?)