speaking of angelina weld grimke

agrimke

Angelina Weld Grimké (February 27, 1880 – June 10, 1958) was an African-American journalist, teacher, playwright and poet who was part of the Harlem Renaissance and was one of the first African-American women to have a play performed. Born in Boston, the daughter of Archibald Grimke, a prominent journalist who served as Vice-President of the NAACP. The Grimkes were a prominent biracial family whose members included both slaveowners and abolitionists. Two of her great aunts, Angelina and Sarah, were prominent abolitionists in the North. Angelina Weld Grimke was named after her aunt who had died the year before.Her paternal grandfather was their brother Henry Grimké, of their large, slaveholding family based in Charleston, South Carolina. Their paternal grandmother was Nancy Weston, an enslaved woman of European and African descent, with whom Henry became involved after becoming a widower.  Grimke’s mother, Sarah Stanley Grimke, a white woman, left her husband under the influence of her parents who never approved of her interracial marriage, and took her three-year old daughter with her. However, at the age of seven, Angelina was returned to her father, and although she and her mother corresponded, they never saw one another again. Sarah Stanley died of suicide several years later.

Grimké wrote essays, short stories and poems which were published in The CrisisOpportunityThe New NegroCaroling Dusk, and Negro Poets and Their Poems. Some of her more famous poems include, “The Eyes of My Regret”, “At April”, and “Trees”. She was an active writer and activist included among the figures of the Harlem Renaissance. Her poetry dealt with more conventional romantic themes, often marked with frequent images of frustration and isolation. Recent scholarship has revealed Grimke’s unpublished lesbian poems and letters; she did not feel free to live openly as a gay woman during her lifetime. 

Grimké also wrote a play called Rachel, one of the first plays to protest lynching and racial violence. She wrote the three-act drama for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) to rally public support against the recently released film The Birth of a Nation. The play was produced in 1916 in Washington, D.C., performed by an all-black cast. It was published in 1920.

After her father died, Grimké left Washington, DC, for New York, where she lived a reclusive life in Brooklyn. She died in 1958 after a long illness.

http://www.aaregistry.com/detail.php?id=1123

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angelina_Weld_Grimké

http://www.scils.rutgers.edu/~cybers/grimke2.html

nancy weston

with friends like these….

Nancy Weston

3397121950_a831785417

 

She lived in Charleston, South Carolina, in the 1850s as a free woman. However, in order to satisfy the laws of the state, she was a ‘nominal slave’ legally owned by a white friend. She was also the grandmother of writer Angelina Weld Grimke.

‘The Face of Our Past: Images of Black Women from Colonial America to the Present’ edited by Kathleen Thompson and Hilary Mac Austin 

http://www.flickr.com/photos/22067139@N05/3397121950/

I would love to write a book or a screenplay based on this one sentence: she was a ‘nominal slave’ legally owned by a white friend.   That has really got my imagination going.  I’ve actually never heard of nominal slaves before.  I read a bit about them today.  Interesting stuff.  Most of what I read was connected to writings pertaining to black slave owners, and the Weston name in S. Carolina came up frequently.  But Nancy was ‘owned’ by a white friend.  I am fascinated.

From http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2821/before-the-civil-war-were-some-slave-owners-black

Between 1800 and 1830 slave states began restricting manumission, seeing free blacks as potential fomenters of slave rebellion. Now you could buy your friends, but you couldn’t free them unless they left the state — which for the freed slave could mean leaving behind family still in bondage. So more free blacks took to owning slaves benevolently. Being a nominal slave was risky — among other things, you could be seized as payment for your nominal owner’s debts. But at least one state, South Carolina, granted nominal slaves certain rights, including the right to buy slaves of their own….

We do, however, need to acknowledge a less common form of black slaveholding. Whites in Louisiana and South Carolina fostered a class of rich people of mixed race — typically they were known as “mulattoes,” although gradations such as “quadroon” and “octoroon” were sometimes used — as a buffer between themselves and slaves. Often the descendants and heirs of well-off whites, these citizens were encouraged to own slaves, tended to side with whites in racial disputes, and generally identified more with their white forebears than black. Nationwide maybe 10 percent of the mixed-race population (about 1 percent of all those identified as African-American) fell into this category.