This Educator From the North Published "Rare" Stories of Antebellum America

Who: Charlotte Forten Grimké, the first Black educator from the North to teach freed slaves in the South; abolitionist, advocate of social justice, and author; August 17, 1837–July 23, 1914

Why She Dazzles: Born into an influential and affluent family in Philadelphia in 1837, Charlotte was the only Black woman of 200 students attending her grammar school. She continued her education, receiving her teaching certificate from the Salem Normal School. When the Civil War began, Charlotte left to educate former slaves off the coast of South Carolina. She also wrote poetry that appeared in antislavery publications.

Why You Need to Know Her Today: Charlotte wrote diaries about her life, notably during the time leading up to the end of slavery. Her diaries, The Journals of Charlotte Forten Grimké, reveal a rare perspective of a free Black woman in the 1800s. She continued to contribute essays throughout her life—indeed an intellectual, cultured, and active voice of equality during and after the war.

What She Would Say—Because She Wrote It Then: “The long, dark night of the Past, with all its sorrows and its fears, was forgotten; and for the Future,—the eyes of these freed children see no clouds in it. It is full of sunlight, they think, and they trust in it, perfectly...”—Charlotte in “Life on the Sea Islands”

What the Ladies Rocked Then: Queen Victoria ruled England, but she also presided over the fashion trends in the U.S. during her reign. The Victorian era introduced the new trend of turquoise set in gold. Queen Victoria’s long mourning period (she only wore black after Prince Albert’s death) had an influence on American jewelry; black onyx and black agate appeared in jewelry designs.      

How You Can Rock It Now: Turquoise and rubies signify love, while turquoise and pearls represent true love. Queen Victoria treasured turquoise and incorporated it into her “something blue” on her wedding day. Bridesmaids who attended Queen Victoria’s wedding received brooches in the form of eagles with turquoise, which were specially commissioned by Prince Albert.

Where She May Like to Instagram: St. Helena Island in South Carolina. Charlotte stayed here for two years before she became ill and had to return north. Her diaries divulged her determination to help the islanders who spoke only Gullah and had never attended school. She wrote about her experiences, which appeared in a two-part essay called Life on the Sea Islands” in the Atlantic Monthly in 1884. 

Shop the Sparkle: Turquoise Sea 

Please Share! How does Charlotte Forten Grimké inspire you? #anewlady

Charlotte Forten Grimké: Beautiful. Bold. Brilliant.