Black History Spotlight: Charlotte Forten Grimké

Posted February 12, 2013
By Gwynne Watkins

As February is Black History Month, we will be taking time this month to spotlight several notable African-Americans who deserve recognition for their contributions to society and history.

Charlotte Forten Grimke

Charlotte Forten Grimké (1837-1914)

Charlotte Forten Grimké was born to a wealthy Free Black family in Philadelphia. Many of her relatives were active abolitionists and belonged to anti-slavery groups that helped escaped slaves. She studied literature and teaching in Salem, Massachusetts, and had a great love of reading. She also joined the Salem Female Anti-Slavery Society, and raised money, wrote and published poetry, spoke for the abolitionists, and arranged lectures.

Eventually, Charlotte supported herself by teaching, first in Salem and later as the first Black teacher to join the American Civil War’s Sea Islands mission in South Carolina. She volunteered as a nurse for an all Black regiment during the war and later worked for the U.S. Treasury Department, recruiting teachers and as a clerk.

Charlotte married Francis J. Grimké, a Presbyterian minister, and was active in the life of the church, organizing a women’s missionary group as well as continuing to support the anti-slavery cause. Throughout her life, she kept a diary that depicts the life of a Free Black woman and the work of the abolitionists during the Civil War.

I have taught thee in the way of wisdom; I have led thee in right paths. — Proverbs 4:11

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Image and text from Warner Press bulletin U7826 (UPC: 7-30817-34481-2). Art and design by Christian Elden. Portrait available for license. Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.

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