Charlotte Forten Grimké

Lived:August 17, 1837—July 23, 1914 (aged 76)

Charlotte Forten Grimké was an African American teacher, author, abolitionist and suffragist.

Born on August 17, 1837, to a family of prominent Philadelphia abolitionists, Charlotte Forten Grimké receive an excellent education from tutors as she was barred from attending a segregated school. At the age of 17, she was sent to Salem, Massachusetts, to be educated further at the Higginson Grammar school and then the Salem Normal School, where she enjoyed great success. After graduation, she found a job as a teacher at Eppes Grammar School. It was in Salem where Grimké further explored her interest in abolition, attending anti-slavery lectures, writing abolitionist poems and joining the Female Anti-Slavery Society at the age of 22.

After a few years of ill health, Grimké moved to South Carolina in 1862, at the height of the Civil War, to work as a teacher for new freedmen and prove that Black Americans were just as capable as whites. In 1864, Grimké moved to Philadelphia where she worked as an assistant in the Sumner School and then a clerk in the Treasury Department. While in Philadelphia, she married the pastor of the 15th Street Presbyterian Church, Francis James Grimké, nephew of Sarah Moore Grimké and Angelina Grimké Weld, in 1878. Their one child, Theodora Cornelia, died in infancy in 1880. The next year, the Grimkés moved to Washington, D.C., and lived there until 1886. Through networks built with other African American women in Massachusetts, Philadelphia, and Washington, Grimké helped found the National Association of Colored Women in 1896 and continued to be an active poet and civil rights activist until her death on July 23, 1914, at the age of 76.

Information taken from:

Logan, Rayford. Biographical Sketch of Charlotte L. Forten. 1982.