Angelina Emily Grimké and Sarah Moore Grimké: Sister Soldiers

The Grimké sisters were raised like Scarlett and her sisters in Gone with the Wind, but, unlike the fictional characters, grew up hating slavery. The privileged duo, two of twelve children, had all the southern advantages of private tutors and training in the arts at their palatial Charleston, South Carolina, home and were brought up to be good, high church Episcopalians. But they first showed their abolitionist spunk when Sarah was twelve; she was caught teaching a slave to read and write, a criminal offense. Because Angelica supported her, they were both punished.

As soon as they could, they high-tailed it out of there. Sarah bailed in 1821, moving north to The City of Brotherly Love and converting to Quakerism because of its antislavery beliefs. Angelina followed eight years later and repeated her sister’s religious switch and “lefty” leanings, going so far as to join the Philadelphia Anti-Slavery Society.

Angelina had a nose for publicity and got her passionate condemnation of slavery published in William Lloyd Garrison’s magazine The Liberator. Spurred by this break, Angelina followed up with a pamphlet entitled “An Appeal to the Christian Women of the South,” which tried to appeal to women’s consciences in opposing slavery: “But, perhaps you will be ready to query, why appeal to women on this subject? We do not make the law which perpetuates slavery. No legislative power is vested in us; we can do nothing to overthrow the system, even if we wished to do so. To this I reply, I know you do not make the laws, but I also know that you are the wives and mothers, the sisters and the daughters of those who do; and if you really suppose you can do nothing to overthrow slavery, you are greatly mistaken…1st. You can read on this subject. 2nd. You can pray over this subject. 3rd. You can speak on this subject. 4th. You can act on this subject.”

Her appeal created a storm of controversy. In her hometown of Charleston, the postmaster burned all copies and put out a warning that Angelina better never show her face again in the South. At that point, sister Sarah took up the charge and attacked the slavers with a shot below their biblical belts with a refutation of the lame excuse that slavery was “OK” according to the Bible in her “Epistle to the Clergy of the Southern States.”

The fearless siblings took their abolitionist act on the road, speaking to mixed crowds of both men and women. This really raised the dander of so-called “proper” society—ladies were not supposed to appear in public with men who were not their husbands and women were not supposed to lecture or preach—and they returned fire with a printed attack from the Massachusetts clergy that was preached to every available congregation in 1837. The clergy condemned women reformers and preachers, issuing a caution regarding any female who “assumed the place and tone of man as public reformer…her character becomes unnatural.” This was followed by other pious publications assaulting the Grimké sisters for overstepping their place.

As a result of the churches’ attack, the sisters found themselves in the middle of the women’s rights movement and are generally credited with being the first to make a link between the abolitionist cause and women’s rights. The irrepressible duo fired back in grand style with letters in the Spectator and in Sarah’s book, published in 1838, Letters on the Equality of the Sexes and the Condition of Women where she took the panty-waisted preachers down with her brilliant manifesto declaring women as absolutely and naturally endowed with equal rights, and that the only “unnatural” behaviors being performed in American society were those of men suppressing women!

Later, Angelina became the first woman in America to speak to a legislature with the presentation of her antislavery petition signed by 20,000 women to the Massachusetts state legislative body. The Grimkés were ahead of their time in many other ways as well, embracing new health fads and intellectual movements and running with a pretty arty crowd, including Henry David Thoreau who was intrigued by their up-to-the-minute fashion sense, describing them as “two elderly gray-haired ladies, the former in extreme Bloomer costume, which was what you might call remarkable.” Go Grimkés!

“I ask for no favors for my sex. I surrender no claim to equality. All I ask our brethren is, that they will take their feet from off our necks and permit us to stand upright on the ground which God designed us to occupy.”
— Sarah Moore Grimké

This excerpt is from The Book of Awesome Women by Becca Anderson, which is available now through Amazon and Mango Media.

Rosa Parks: The First Lady of Civil Rights

Rosaparks
By Unknown – USIA / National Archives and Records Administration Records of the U.S. Information Agency Record Group 306, Public Domain.

Rosa Parks gave a human face to the civil rights movement. She showed how the issues addressed in all of the speeches affected a woman’s life in the course of an ordinary day. The woman was Rosa Louise McCauley Parks; the day became an extraordinary day that rocked the nation and changed history.

Born in 1913, Rosa grew up in Pine Level, Alabama, with her schoolteacher mother, Leona. She helped her mother take care of her sickly grandparents and run the household, because Rosa’s father had gone to work up north and effectively disappeared from their lives. Later, she moved in with her aunt Fanny and enrolled in the Montgomery Industrial School for Girls, a private school, where she was exposed to the liberal ideals of teachers raised in the north. Rosa took her teachers’ lessons to heart, as well as the stories her elderly grandparents told about the evils of slavery, sparking a sense of justice that would only grow.

Rosa vacillated between following in the footsteps of her mother and becoming a teacher and pursuing her own dream of training to be a nurse. Then in 1932, she met and married Raymond Parks, who had struggled up from an impoverished background where he wasn’t allowed to attend school because of his color. To augment her husband’s income from barbering, Rosa dabbled in many lines of work, including maid, seamstress, and secretary.

Her involvement in civil rights grew. She was the first woman to start attending the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP and also worked in the effort to register blacks to vote. Rosa often walked home from work to avoid the “back of the bus” issue until December 1, 1955, when she was returning home from a long day of sewing at a Montgomery department store. The buses from downtown were always fairly crowded and had a section designated for blacks behind the ten rows of seats in the front for white folks. Rosa was sitting in the first row of the “blacks only” section when the white section filled up, leaving a white man without a seat. The tacit understanding was that, in such a scenario, the black person was supposed to stand and let the white person have the seat. The white bus driver called for the four black people in the front row of the black section to get up and let the white man have the row. Rosa refused and the driver called the police.

Her solitary action started a firestorm of controversy, including a bus boycott and protest march led by Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King. A fascinating footnote to the incident is that Rosa had been evicted by the very same bus driver twelve years before. Though there had been several incidents on Montgomery buses, Rosa stuck to her guns and became the pivotal legal case for the burgeoning civil rights movement’s attack on segregated seating. Upon going to trial and being found guilty, she refused to pay her fine and appealed the decision. Her actions cost Rosa and her husband dearly; they both lost their jobs and were the recipients of threats to their lives. Undaunted, Rosa worked with the carpooling efforts that enabled blacks to continue their 381-day boycott of the bus system.

The sacrifices of the black community were not in vain, because the U.S. District Court ruled segregated seating to be unconstitutional. However, due to the controversy, Rosa, the shero who started the battle by keeping her seat, couldn’t get a job anywhere in Montgomery. Rosa, Raymond, and Rosa’s mother moved to Detroit and started a new life there, Rosa working as a seamstress and for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. She ultimately found a career in U.S. Representative John Coyner’s office. Rosa Parks’ courage in that split second moment when she made her decision is at the very crux of the victorious struggle for African Americans. Rosa worked diligently for the good of her community, traveling and speaking on behalf of the NAACP. She loved to talk to young people about the movement, for the work has truly only begun. Rosa Parks has become a symbol of fearlessness and fortitude. In 1980, Rosa was honored by Ebony magazine as “the living black woman who had done the most to advance the cause of civil rights.”

“You didn’t have to wait for a lynching. You died a little each time you found yourself face to face with this kind of discrimination.”

—Rosa Parks

This excerpt is from The Book of Awesome Women by Becca Anderson, which is available now through Amazon and Mango Media.

 

Ida B. Wells: Journalist for Justice

Mary_Garrity_-_Ida_B._Wells-Barnett_-_Google_Art_Project_-_restoration_crop
By Original: Mary GarrityRestored by Adam Cuerden – Based on image originally from NAEMVZELXQV2iw at Google Cultural Institute, Public Domain.

Ida Bell Wells-Barnett was an African American journalist and advocate of women’s rights, including suffrage. Though she was born a slave in 1862 in Holly Springs, Mississippi, six months later the Emancipation Proclamation freed all slaves. Even though they were legally free citizens, her family faced racial prejudice and discrimination while living in Mississippi. Her father helped start Shaw University, and Ida received schooling there, but when she was 16, her parents and one of her siblings died of yellow fever. This meant that as the eldest, Ida had to stop going to school and start taking care of her eight sisters and brothers. Since the family direly needed money, Ida ingeniously convinced a county school official that she was 18 and managed to obtain a job as a teacher. In 1882, she moved to her aunt’s in Nashville with several siblings and at last continued her education at Fisk University.

A direct experience of prejudice in 1884 electrifyingly catalyzed Wells’ sense of the need to advocate for justice. While traveling from Memphis to Nashville, she bought a first-class train ticket, but was outraged when the crew told her to move to the car for African Americans. Refusing, Wells was forced off the train bodily; rather than giving in and giving up, she sued the railroad in circuit court and gained a judgment forcing them to pay her $500. Sadly, the state Supreme Court later overturned the decision; but this experience motivated her to write about Southern racial politics and prejudice. Various black publications published her articles, written under the nom-de-plume “Iola”. Wells later became an owner of two papers, the Memphis Free Speech and Headlight and Free Speech.

Besides her journalistic and publishing work, she also as a teacher at one of Memphis’ black-only public schools. She became a vocal critic of the condition of these segregated schools. This advocacy caused her to be fired from her job in 1891. The next year, three African American store owners clashed with the white owner of a store nearby who felt they were competing too successfully for local business; when the white store owner attacked their store with several allies, the black store owners ended up shooting several white men while defending their store. The three black men were taken to jail, but never had their day in court – a lynch mob dragged them out and murdered all three men. Moved to action by this horrible tragedy, she started writing about the lynchings of a friend and others, and went on to do in-depth investigative reporting of lynching in America, risking her life to do so.

While away in New York, Wells was told that her office had been trashed by a mob, and that if she ever came back to Memphis she would be killed. She remained in the North and published an in-depth article on lynching for the New York Age, a paper owned by a former slave; she then toured abroad, lecturing on the issue in the hope of enlisting the support of pro-reform whites. When she found out that black exhibitors were banned at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, she published a pamphlet with the support and backing of famed freed slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass, as well as “A Red Record,” a personal report on lynchings in America.

In 1896, Wells founded the National Association of Colored Women; and in 1898, she took her anti-lynching campaign to the White House and led a protest in Washington D.C. to urge President McKinley to act. She was a founding member of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), but later cut ties with the organization, feeling that it wasn’t sufficiently focused on taking action. Wells also worked on behalf of all women and was a part of the National Equal Rights League; she continuously fought for women’s suffrage. She even ran for the state senate in 1930, but the next year her health failed, and she died of kidney disease at the age of 68. Well’s life is a testament to courage in the face of danger.

“I felt that one had better die fighting against injustice than to die like a dog or rat in a trap. I had already determined to sell my life as dearly as possible if attacked. I felt if I could take one lyncher with me, this would even up the score a little bit.”

— Ida B. Wells

This excerpt is from The Book of Awesome Women by Becca Anderson, which is available now through Amazon and Mango Media.

Harriet Tubman: Harriet the Spy (Not Kidding)

by H Seymour Squyer
By Photographer: Horatio Seymour Squyer, 1848 – 18 Dec 1905 – National Portrait Gallery, Public Domain.

In her day, Harriet was lovingly referred to as Moses, for leading her people home to freedom. An escaped slave herself, she pulled off feat after amazing feat and gave freedom to many who would otherwise have never known it. Harriet Tubman was a conductor on the Underground Railroad, perhaps the best that ever was. She is best known for this activity, but she was also a feminist, a nurse, and, for a time, a spy. Her keenest interest was social reform, both for her gender and her people.

Born around 1821 on a plantation in Maryland, Harriet struggled with grand mal seizures after a blow to the head as a child, but the damage from a severely fractured skull didn’t stop her from the most dangerous work she could have possibly undertaken: taking groups of slaves to freedom in the north. During her slow recovery from being hit in the head with a two-pound weight by an overseer, she began praying and contemplating the enslavement of blacks, resolving to do what she could, with faith in a higher power. She married John Tubman, a free man, in 1844, and lived in fear that she would be sold into the Deep South. When she heard rumors that she was about to be sold, she plotted her escape, begging John to come with her. He not only refused, but threatened to turn her in.

Harriet escaped to freedom by herself, but immediately plotted to return for her family members, using the Underground Railroad. She ultimately rescued all her family members except John; he had taken a new wife and remained behind. She led more than two hundred slaves to safety and freedom, encouraging her “passengers” with gospel songs sung in a deep, strong voice. She also developed a code to signal danger using biblical quotations and certain songs. Harriet Tubman always outfoxed the whites who questioned her about the groups of blacks traveling with her. She lived in constant threat of hanging, with a $40,000 price on her head, and many close calls. One of the most dramatic incidents shows Harriet’s resourcefulness and resolve when she bought tickets heading south to evade whites demanding to know what a group of blacks were doing traveling together. She always carried a gun to dissuade any frightened fugitives from turning tail. “You’ll be free or die,” she told them— and she never lost a passenger.

Harriet also started connecting with abolitionists in the North, developing a strong admiration for John Brown (she conspired with him in his raid at Harper’s Ferry) and Susan B. Anthony. During the Civil War, she nursed black soldiers, worked as a spy for the Union, and even led a raid that freed 750 slaves. After the war, she lived in Auburn, New York, in a house that had been a way station for the Underground Railroad, teaching blacks how to cope with newfound freedom; gathering food, clothing, and money for poor blacks; and founding a home for elderly and indigent blacks. Harriet’s last years were spent in abject poverty despite all she had given to others, but she died at the age of ninety-three having accomplished the task she set herself as a girl. She was the great emancipator, offering her people hope, freedom, and new beginnings. Reformer and writer Thomas Wentworth Higginson named her “the greatest heroine of the age.”

“When I found I had crossed that line, I looked to my hands to see if I was the same person. There was such a glory over everything.”

— Harriet Tubman
This excerpt is from The Book of Awesome Women by Becca Anderson, which is available now through Amazon and Mango Media.

Sojourner Truth: “Ain’t I a Woman?”

Carte_de_visite
By Unidentified photographer – Gladstone Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress; Reproduction Number: LC-USZC4-6165 (3-11b), Public Domain.

Sojourner Truth’s name alone suggests sheroism. It fits her perfectly—she was a fire-breathing preacher, suffragist, and vigilant abolitionist. Unschooled and born to slavery, she didn’t allow these disadvantages to prevent her from becoming one of the most charismatic and powerful orators of the nineteenth century. In fact, like many African Americans of the day, hardship seemed to make her only stronger, like a blade forged by fire.

She hailed from Dutch country in upstate New York and grew up speaking Dutch. Christened Isabella, she was sold away from her parents as a child and was traded many times, until finally landing with John Dumont for whom she worked for sixteen years. At fourteen, she was given to an older slave to be his wife and bore five children. In 1826, one year before she was to be legally freed, Isabella ran away from Dumont and hid with a pacifist Quaker family.

Upon hearing that one of her sons had been sold into lifetime slavery in Alabama, Isabella sued over this illegal sale of her son and, remarkably, won the case. Isabella moved to New York in the 1830s and worked as a maid for a religious community, the Magdalenes, whose mission was the conversion of prostitutes to Christianity.

By 1843, the extremely religious Isabella heard a calling to become a traveling preacher. She renamed herself Sojourner Truth and hit the road where her talent for talking amazed all who heard her at revivals, camp meetings, churches, and on the side of the road, if the occasion arose. She kept her sermons to the simple themes of brotherly love and tolerance. In Massachusetts, Truth encountered liberals who enlightened her on the topics of feminism and abolition. Her autobiography, as told to the antislavery forerunner William Lloyd Garrison, provided a powerful weapon for the cause of abolition when published. Her story, The Narrative of Sojourner Truth, was one of the first stories of a woman slave to be widely known and was retold many times, including the charmingly entitled version, “Sojourner Truth, the Libyan Sibyl” by Harriet Beecher Stowe, which was published by the Atlantic Monthly.

Sojourner then put her religious fervor into the message of abolition, a holy mission into which she threw all her formidable will and energy. Her call to end the slavery of human beings in this country was powerful. There is a beloved story showing her quick tongue and even quicker mind and spirit: when the great Frederick Douglas openly doubted there could be an end to slavery without the spilling of blood. In a flash, Sojourner replied, “Frederick, is God dead?”

By the middle of the nineteenth century, Sojourner was preaching the twin messages of abolition and women’s suffrage. She was unwavering in her convictions and made the eloquent point that “if colored men get their rights and not colored women, colored men will be masters over the women, and it will be just as bad as before.” She threw herself into the Civil War efforts helping runaway slaves and black soldiers. President Lincoln was so impressed with the legend of Sojourner Truth that he invited her to the White House to talk.

Sojourner Truth worked, preached, and fought right up to her dying day in 1883. She lived long enough to see one of her fondest hopes—the abolition of slavery—be realized and, along with the estimable Harriet Tubman, is one of the two most respected African American women of the nineteenth century. Was she a woman? Yes, indeed. And a shero for all time!

“I have ploughed, and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman?”
— Sojourner Truth
This excerpt is from The Book of Awesome Women by Becca Anderson, which is available now through Amazon and Mango Media.

Elizabeth Blackwell: Medicine Woman

Elizabeth_Blackwell
By Unknown photographer – National Library of Medicine, Public Domain.

After she was born in England, Elizabeth Blackwell’s family moved to the United States in 1831, settling in Cincinatti when their sugar refinery in New York burned down in 1835. They were progressives, and Elizabeth’s father, Samuel, had chosen to refine sugar from beets because it could be done without slave labor. However, the malaria-ridden Ohio River Valley soon took Samuel Blackwell’s life, and the children all had to work to support the family. Musically talented Elizabeth taught music classes and assisted her siblings in running a boardinghouse in the family home. Elizabeth had a chance to teach in Kentucky but couldn’t tolerate the idea of living in a slave state.

Befriended by Harriet Beecher Stowe, Elizabeth became very active in the anti-slavery movement and also exported her literary leanings, joining the Semi-Colon Club at Stowe’s urgings. Elizabeth needed more intellectual stimulation than even the writing club offered, however, and spurned the attention of Cincinnati’s young men in order to keep her mind clear for higher pursuits. When her father was alive, she had become accustomed to the excellent schooling and private tutors Samuel provided for his brood. Children were “thinking creatures,” the elder Blackwells proclaimed. Further, they made sure that the girls were taught all the same subjects as the boys, quite a rare notion for the time.

When her friend Mary Donaldson died of what was probably uterine cancer, Elizabeth Blackwell knew she wanted to become a doctor. Mary had told Elizabeth that she believed her illness would not have been fatal if her doctor had been a woman; a woman would have taken her seriously instead of her being dismissed as suffering from “woman troubles” and emotionalism. Elizabeth knew in her heart that Mary was right. Her long road to becoming a physician was more difficult than she could ever know, but her unswerving dedication to reaching her goal is a testament to Elizabeth Blackwell’s character.

Elizabeth Blackwell was turned down by no less than twenty-eight medical schools in her attempt to study medicine! Even her ultimate triumph at the age of twenty-six in finally enrolling at Geneva College in New York was handled insultingly. Pressured by Joseph Warrington, a noted doctor from Philadelphia who admired Elizabeth’s fierce combination of smarts and pure pluck, the board at Geneva decided to give Blackwell a chance. Wimpily, they left the vote up to the all-male student body, who as a joke voted unanimously to let her in. Blackwell had the last laugh, however, when she outperformed the lot of jokers and graduated at the top of the class. Far from taking away from her achievement, their mockery made her victory all the sweeter. But she faced more obstacles upon graduation.

Elizabeth first worked in a syphilis ward for women where she was greeted with rancor and resentment by all the male physicians. The only job she could get was in Paris
at La Maternite hospital interning in midwifery. Then Elizabeth’s hopes of becoming a surgeon were dashed when she lost her left eye to disease. She also interned a year in London, meeting Florence Nightingale and forming a friendship that lasted their lifetime. Blackwell fared no better in the United States when she tried to find work in her profession, finally going into private practice in New York City where she was deluged with obscene letters and accosted on the street as a harlot and an abortionist. Her initial interest in women’s health was evidenced by her opening of the New York Dispensary for Poor Women and Children, where the unfortunate could receive medical attention. There, Elizabeth welcomed two more women doctors—Emily Blackwell, her sister, and Marie Zakrewska, both of whom had entered medical school with her help.

Blackwell’s pioneering works are considerable: She authored a book titled The Laws of Life, lectured on the importance of women in medicine, organized a Civil War nursing outfit, and founded a health-inspection program run by the first African American female physician, Dr. Rebecca Cole. When she moved back to England in 1869, she added sex education and birth control to her lectures, argued against the use of animal testing, cofounded the British National Health Society, was a professor of gynecology at the brand new School of Medicine for Women, and wrote several more books and tracts, including her autobiography, Pioneer Work in Opening the Medical Profession to Women. Elizabeth died of a stroke at the age of eighty-nine, sixty-three years after she broke down the walls barring women from medicine.

“I am watching, my doubts will not be subdued. (I will) commit heresy with intelligence…if my convictions compel me to do it.”
— Elizabeth Blackwell

This excerpt is from The Book of Awesome Women by Becca Anderson, which is available now through Amazon and Mango Media.

ANGELINA EMILY GRIMKÉ AND SARAH MOORE GRIMKÉ: SISTER SOLDIERS

angelina_emily_grimke
By Unknown Library of Congress‘s Prints and Photographs division cph.3a03341. Public Domain, Link

The Grimké sisters were raised like Scarlett and her sisters in Gone with the Wind, but, unlike the fictional characters, grew up hating slavery. The privileged duo, two of twelve children, had all the southern advantages of private tutors and training in the arts at their palatial Charleston, South Carolina, home and were brought up to be good, high church Episcopalians. But they first showed their abolitionist spunk when Sarah was twelve; she was caught teaching a slave to read and write, a criminal offense.

Because Angelica supported her, they were both punished. As soon as they could, they high-tailed it out of there. Sarah bailed in 1821, moving north to The City of Brotherly Love and converting to Quakerism because of its antislavery beliefs. Angelina followed eight years later and repeated her sister’s religious switch and “lefty” leanings, going so far as to join the Philadelphia Anti-Slavery Society.

sarah_moore_grimke
By Unknown –  Library of Congress‘s Prints and Photographs division  ID cph.3a03340. Public Domain, Link

Angelina had a nose for publicity and got her passionate condemnation of slavery published in William Lloyd Garrison’s magazine The Liberator. Spurred by this break, Angelina followed up with a pamphlet entitled “An Appeal to the Christian Women of the South,” which tried to appeal to women’s consciences in opposing slavery:

“But, perhaps you will be ready to query, why appeal to women on this subject? We do not make the law which perpetuates slavery. No legislative power is vested in us; we can do nothing to overthrow the system, even if we wished to do so. To this I reply, I know you do not make the laws, but I also know that you are the wives and mothers, the sisters and the daughters of those who do; and if you really suppose you can do nothing to overthrow slavery, you are greatly mistaken…1st. You can read on this subject. 2nd. You can pray over this subject. 3rd. You can speak on this subject. 4th. You can act on this subject.”

Her appeal created a storm of controversy. In her hometown of Charleston, the postmaster burned all copies and put out a warning that Angelina better never show her face again in the South. At that point, sister Sarah took up the charge and attacked the slavers with a shot below their biblical belts with a refutation of the lame excuse that slavery was “OK” according to the Bible in her “Epistle to the Clergy of the Southern States.”

The fearless siblings took their abolitionist act on the road, speaking to mixed crowds of both men and women. This really raised the dander of so-called “proper” society—ladies were not supposed to appear in public with men who were not their husbands and women were not supposed to lecture or preach—and they returned fire with a printed attack from the Massachusetts clergy that was preached to every available congregation in 1837. The clergy condemned women reformers and preachers, issuing a caution regarding any female who “assumed the place and tone of man as public reformer…her character becomes unnatural.” This was followed by other pious publications assaulting the Grimké sisters for overstepping their place.

As a result of the churches’ attack, the sisters found themselves in the middle of the women’s rights movement and are generally credited with being the first to make a link between the abolitionist cause and women’s rights. The irrepressible duo fired back in grand style with letters in the Spectator and in Sarah’s book, published in 1838, Letters on the Equality of the Sexes and the Condition of Women where she took the panty-waisted preachers down with her brilliant manifesto declaring women as absolutely and naturally endowed with equal rights, and that the only “unnatural” behaviors being performed in American society were those of men suppressing women!

Later, Angelina became the first woman in America to speak to a legislature with the presentation of her antislavery petition signed by 20,000 women to the Massachusetts state legislative body. The Grimkés were ahead of their time in many other ways as well, embracing new health fads and intellectual movements and running with a pretty arty crowd, including Henry David Thoreau who was intrigued by their up-to-the-minute fashion sense, describing them as “two elderly gray-haired ladies, the former in extreme Bloomer costume, which was what you might call remarkable.” Go Grimkés!

“I ask for no favors for my sex. I surrender no claim to equality. All I ask our brethren is, that they will take their feet from off our necks and permit us to stand upright on the ground which God designed us to occupy.”

— Sarah Moore Grimké

This excerpt is from The Book of Awesome Women by Becca Anderson, which is available now through Amazon and Mango Media.