Sarah Moore Grimké & Angelina Emily Grimké Weld
26nd November 1792 – 23rd December 1873 & 20th February 1805 – 26t October 1879
“This idea of woman’s being “the last gift of God to man,” however pretty it may sound to the ears of those who love to discourse upon. ” The poetry of romantic gallantry, and the generous promptings of chivalry,” has nevertheless been the means of sinking her from an end into a mere means – of turning her into an appendage to man, instead of recognizing her as a part of man – of destroying her individuality, and rights, and responsibilities, and merging her moral being in that of man. Instead of Jehovah being her king, her lawgiver, her judge, she has been taken out of the exalted scale of existence in which He placed her, and subjected to the despotic control of man”
Letter XII Human Rights Not Founded on Sex, Angelina Emily Grimké
The Grimké sisters were the first great female abolitionist and feminist authors in the United States.
Despite being sisters Sarah and Angelina had a very close relationship more akin to mother and daughter after Sarah became Godmother to her younger sibling. Originally coming from a slave owning family they rejected their previous life and moved to Philadelphia and joined the Quaker community. After having an anti-slavery letter published in a newspaper the two sisters had to choose between fighting against slavery or staying within the Quaker fold, the sisters then dedicated their lives to fighting inequality within race and gender. As well as receiving disapproval from the Quakers the sisters also came under fire from the secular sphere for stepping outside of the female sphere and becoming the first women to engage in public speaking.
Despite the attacks from churches the Sisters never lost their faith and continued speaking to congregations across the Southern States using the Bible and theology to make their case for Race and gender equality. As well as public speaking the sisters also wrote, either to newspapers, tracts or in response to individuals in letter form. Both sisters used the Creation Story in Genesis to base their argument that Women were created equal to Men, a text usually used at the time to make the opposite case.
The two sisters made a living running a school and continued the fight for abolition throughout their lives. Undeterred by old age the two sisters attempted to vote in the early 1870’s to highlight the issues of inequality women faced. Angelina outlived her older sister, who died on this day 1873, by seven years.
Prayer for the Grimké Sisters:
God of Equality, we give you thanks for the faith and work of the Grimké sisters. We ask that you might fill us with the same spirit and courage to step out of our social norms to challenge injustice and inequality wherever we may find it, and that, like your servants, may not be undeterred when faced with religious opposition. Through your most Holy and Beloved Son, Jesus Christ.
Suggested Bible Reading: