NEWSLETTER SIGNUP

By signing up to our newsletter, you agree to our terms.

Life on the Sea Islands

by Charlotte Forten Grimké

The Atlantic Monthly has preserved Charlotte Forten Grimké’s writings in their archives.  Read them below (in two parts):

Charles Barkley's
Black History Month All Stars

All Star #17: Charlotte Forten Grimké

I speak at a lot of schools across the country, and I’ve encountered a trend that drives me freakin’ nuts. I always ask students the following question:

“How many of you want to be a professional athlete or a rapper?”

At inner-city, mostly African American schools, nearly every hand shoots up. When I ask the same question in a white suburban school, maybe 10 percent of hands are raised. I speak to a lot of schools, and this happens without fail.

I tell black kids all the time, “You ain’t gonna be me.” Even if you’re any good on the court, the odds are stacked against you. But I can tell from the blank way they look back at me: They’re putting all their eggs in this totally unlikely basket. But I get why. Young black kids get from the media an unrealistic picture of African American success. Athletes and rappers, with Denzel and Oprah thrown in.

So to mark Black History Month here at The Citizen, I’m going to introduce you every day to my Philadelphia Black History Month All-Stars. Many of them didn’t make it into the history books or even the newspapers of their time. But their stories are inspiring and worth knowing.

17

Charlotte Forten Grimké

Writer/Teacher

Charlotte Forten Grimké

Writer/Teacher

(August 17, 1837- July 23, 1914)

Born into a wealthy family that valued both intellect and activism, Charlotte Forten Grimké was always eager to educate and engage a deprived African American community. She was the first black northerner to go south and teach former slaves. It was during the Civil War, on union-occupied St. Helena Island, where Forten taught ex-slaves as part of the Port Royal Experiment. While there, she struggled to connect with the islanders who hardly spoke English and who struggled following the daily routines of school. Nevertheless, once she detailed her experiences in an article published by Atlantic Monthly, more schools started popping up in the south for African Americans. She was also an avid writer and kept journals that have drawn attention for their insightful take on America during and after slavery.

EDUCATION:

  • Higginson Grammar School
  • Norman School

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS:

  • Leader of the Port Royal Experiment
  • Appointed clerk in the U.S. Treasury Department
  • Had work published in William Lloyd Garrison’s The Liberator
  • The Journals of Charlotte Forten Grimké was published in 1988

 

FINAL WORD: “I shall dwell again among ‘mine own people.’ I shall gather my scholars about me, and see smiles of greeting break over their dusky faces. My heart sings a song of thanksgiving, at the thought that even I am permitted to do something for a long-abused race, and aid in promoting a higher, holier, and happier life on the Sea Islands,” Forten said.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Recent Tweets
@THEPHILACITIZEN

@thephilacitizen @@thephilacitizen
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
Here are 16 things we can do in Philadelphia to make our worlds a little brighter in light of the recent tragedies. https://t.co/ublgupwH56 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
"You can’t have it both ways any longer." Guest commentary on Trump and the state of his party. https://t.co/sv4kjLxLIP 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
.@onwurd weighs in on problematic statues and their rightful place in America. Via @ellisonreport https://t.co/sKdIlcfQAc 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
"Which House or Senate leader is willing to make a statement repudiating Trump?" Guest commentator @coachsethberger https://t.co/sv4kjLxLIP 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
"Perhaps the more unfortunate thing is the lack of any historical context in the removal of statues." @ellisonreport https://t.co/sKdIlcfQAc 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
Last night someone defaced the #rizzostatue. The Citizen takes a look back at the play about the former mayor. https://t.co/R0qlO2DgoY 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
Guest Commentator Seth Berger wonders where we go from here after #Trump's backpedal on condemning the Alt-right.… https://t.co/XTswcVGTJS 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
.@onwurd ’s afternoon hosts wonder how much those doing the debating over the Rizzo statue actually know. #OnWurdhttps://t.co/0yacMntiuR 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
A comprehensive list of actions we can take in the wake of the events of Charlottesville. #UnitedWeStand #Philly https://t.co/ublgupOhWE 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
"Let’s distinguish ourselves from Trump by being the anti-moral equivalence city." @platt_larry on #Trump & #Rizzo https://t.co/OXVyTI9DZS 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
Friday join @UACoalition in celebrating 1,400 youth successfully completing summer jobs and internships! https://t.co/xY40nTcjlp 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
Celebrate, learn and engage with Caribbean culture this Sun at the Philadelphia Caribbean Festival @penns_landing. https://t.co/mJyawYIF1Z 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
Click link to review the agenda and regulations for tonight's SRC meeting at the Phila School District HQ, 4:30. https://t.co/hSJ8ija8wM 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
The Citizen has 16 ways to turn your horror over what happened in Charlottesville into action and support in Philly… https://t.co/D0giDHT9Q0 

LOAD MORE

Be a Citizen Editor

Suggest a Story