The sisters, Angelina and Sarah, grew up in a wealthy South Carolina slave-owning family, but fought against it from an early age. Sarah often told the story that she was so upset at age five at seeing a family slave whipped that she tried to run away to a place where slavery didn't exist.
From the Newburyport Daily News:
The two ended up in Massachusetts, with Angelina being the first woman to address the state legislature and skillfully debating slavery supporters in Amesbury.
Angelina herself was thrust into the spotlight of the abolitionist movement by William Lloyd Garrison who, as publisher of The Liberator in Newburyport, mistakenly published a letter from Angelina that was meant to be private correspondence.
In her letter, she urged the passionate newspaperman Garrison to continue his fight against slavery, stating, "The ground upon which you stand is holy ground. Never, never surrender it ... if you surrender it, the hope of the slave is extinguished."
While the letter resulted in the sisters' being driven from their communities, it also thrust them into the national spotlight, prompting their trip to the North and setting the course of their destinies.
Angelina and Sarah's connection to the NSLT extends beyond Garrison. Their nephew Francis Grimké eventually married Salem's Charlotte Forten, who was the first black woman to teach white children at the integrated Epps Grammar School in the 1860s and who wrote extensively about her experiences teaching the Gullah-speaking children of freed slaves on St. Helena Island, South Carolina.
- See a video of Lenoe and Petersen performing at the State House in 2008
- Read about the Grimké sisters on Wikipedia
- Read Sarah Grimké's An Epistle to the Clergy of the Southern States
- Lift Up Thy Voice: The Grimke Family's Journey from Slaveholders to Civil Rights Leaders by Mark Perry
- Historian Gerda Lerner has two Kindle books about the Grimké sisters on Amazon The Grimke Sisters from South Carolina: Pioneers for Women's Rights and Abolition and The Feminist Thought of Sarah Grimke
- Walking by Faith: The Diary of Angelina Grimke, 1828-1835 edited by Charles Wilbanks
- Read John Greenleaf Whittier's "Pastoral Letter," writen in response to a letter issued by the General Association of Congressional Ministers disapproving of the Grimké's pursuit of "perplexed and agitating subjects." The Association urged member churches not to debate slavery and warned that such inflaming passions threatened "the female character with widespread and permanent injury."